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By Vero González

Rona Jaffe Foundation – 2018 Hedgebrook Fellowship

A Hedgebrook residency is a gift of freedom from duty, from physical and emotional labor, a stripping away of everything nonessential until you—the purest essence of you—are all that remains & you discover that you are not scared of the dark & that you do like dancing taking long walks waking up early & the taste of fennel, hand-picked with love in the lush Hedgebrook garden.

Hedgebrook sisterhood means all the petty, jealous, competitive feelings you have harbored about other writers are replaced by generosity, love, enthusiasm & this process can be painful because you have to confront those feelings in yourself—but no matter what comes up for you in the woods, Hedgebrook can hold it.

After four weeks of relentless gifts, when I thought Hedgebrook had given me all it could, it handed me a final one.

Being awarded the Rona Jaffe Foundation fellowship is a vote of confidence, an affirmation to repeat over and over when self-doubt creeps in, a light showing me I am on the right path, an advance to help finance a dream.

You will write.

But it is not about the word count or your deadline or your ego & its expectations.  It is about the rituals that emerge when your usual structures fall away.  The way the light drops rainbows on your cottage floor.  The way Hedgebrook continues to feed you long after your last dinner.

It is the community you didn’t know you’d been waiting for, reaching out to hold you across the distance.

By Hedgebrook Guest

Why VORTEXT is Better Than an MFA

The answer to how important a Master of Fine Arts degree is to becoming a fiction writer is, of course, not at all. The history of world literature is weighted heavily on the side of writers who put their masterpieces together without the benefit of two years of graduate school.” ~Ann Patchett, “The Getaway Car.”

For years I have agonized over whether or not I should get an MFA, but I could never bring myself to spend a ton of money or move to a new city in an attempt to earn a a real degree. On my blog, The MFA Project, I document the ways I now make up my own MFA—I am in a workshop that meets regularly, and I am constantly trying to read more widely. Since attending VORTEXT in 2015, the idea of a literary community is now a crucial part of this alternative to the MFA as well.

  Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Hedgebrook Vortext: An Uncommon Convergence

In this post, Hannah Lee Jones captures her experience from VORTEXT in 2015, describing the rich details she took with her and emphasizing the broad “genre, geography, life experiences, [and] thematic passions” of the workshop teachers who will return once again for a reinvigorating weekend of VORTEXT this spring.

For four years the forested lands of the Whidbey Institute at Chinook have been host in May to a conference of women writers from all over the country. The term I prefer over “conference” is convergence, and the convergence is VORTEXT, a three-day writing conference hosted by Hedgebrook which ended last weekend. And I remember each spring how lucky I am that the non-profit retreat for women writers and venue for women’s voices exists just down the road from where I live, here on gorgeous Whidbey Island.    Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

My Hedgebrook Experience

For a few years in the 1990’s and early 2000’s I was the director of a writers’ festival in New Zealand. An annual literary event that featured well-known international writers, it enabled me to meet and mingle with some of my favorite authors; Jane Smiley, Joanne Harris, Frank McCourt, Tom Keneally, Margaret Atwood, Ruth Reichl and many more.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Ten Reasons Why Vortext is Indescribable

This was my second year attending the Vortext writing salon. I’ve attended a lot of writing workshops and conferences over the past four or five years, and this one is unique. Indescribable—everyone I spoke with agreed! But, here’s trying:

  1. Sisterhood. It’s all women so that makes it special right off the bat.
  1. Nature. There’s an almost magical quality about being at the Whidbey Institute for three days. It was like travelling back into a simpler, quieter time and being reminded of the quiet place in myself where I am the most creative.

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By Hedgebrook Guest

Experience Radical Hospitality

Gloria Steinem, who serves on our Creative Advisory Council, describes Hedgebrook this way: “It’s as if women have taken their 5,000 years of nurturing experience and turned it on each other.”

At the core of Hedgebrook’s Writers in Residence program, Master Classes and weekend writing salons is the philosophy that we have lovingly coined “radical hospitality.” This translates into comfortable lodging, delicious food and a setting that provides complete control over how she spends her time, a peaceful setting in nature, and the company of other women writers. In short: everything you need to nurture your soul and your creativity.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Will summer heat bring hope again?

I sometimes feel guilty when I wash dishes. I live and work in a rural town in a developing country in Central Asia, and there are people living near me who often struggle to feed their families. Wouldn’t it be better to always have a person who needs money wash my dishes, and I could be free to do something else such as writing? Work hours here are long: there is much need, and accomplishing tasks takes extra time. [We say: if it would take two weeks at home, it will take two months here.] I know that the efforts of my colleagues and I have real impact in the lives of our neighbors, so my work is meaningful. Sadly, writing often takes a back seat to donor deadlines, community projects, and trying to time laundry when both water and electricity are available.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Come for the Community

What’s special about the 3-day VORTEXT writing salon? Here’s some insight from workshop leaders for the upcoming 2015 session (May 29-31):

“Watching the weave of relationships created at Vortext, and the creative power generated and moved along into the world, is essential to re-charging my psychic batteries. It reminds me that the best creative work arises from collaboration and a sense of collective purpose. At last year’s open mic readings, hearing the women cheering each other on because they KNEW how hard it was to get up there was one of many truly moving moments. It reminds me how little (and how much) is needed to create a responsive environment for creative work. It’s all about intention, and Hedgebrook’s Vortext brings me back to everything I genuinely believe and value.”   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Dani Shapiro’s Strategies for Giving Yourself Permission to Write

It’s hard to believe that Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, as well as five novels and the craft book, Still Writing, has struggled with giving herself permission to write.

“Permission is something that everyone who creates has to find a way to access,” says Shapiro, who was raised in an orthodox Jewish home, where it was expected that, as a woman, she would marry an investment banker and raise kids in the suburbs. “Doctors don’t graduate from medical school wondering if they’ll practice medicine; people don’t graduate from law school needing to ask permission to be an attorney. But anything we do that’s about creating something from nothing, is bushwhacking in a way. The more we’re forging our own path, the more we feel the need to be granted permission to do so. And often, there’s nobody there to give us that assurance.”   Read more

By Holly Atkinson

Your Greatest Success

Each year at Christmas, my husband Galen and I perform in a reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Bob Crachit utters my husband’s favorite line in the story when Mrs. Crachit brings to the holiday dinner table the steaming plum pudding, which Dickens, a line or two before this triumphant moment, points out smells like a washrag. After tasting the pudding, Crachit says, “My dear, I regard this as your greatest success since our marriage.”

This line never fails to make my husband laugh.   Read more

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Rona Jaffe Foundation – 2018 Hedgebrook Fellowship