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by Hedgebrook Guest

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.

  1. Community. As Ruth Ozeki said, “Community is an odd and difficult concept for writers… We want community and not. We’re used to working alone, in solitude. Hedgebrook offers the opportunity to commune with members of our tribe in a safe, understood place.”
  1. Food. Oh, yeah, the food. Delectable meals prepared by the Hedgebrook chefs.
  1. Inspiration. Writing workshops and talks given by Hedgebrook alumni writers Ruth Ozeki, Dani Shapiro, Hannah Tinti, Carole DeSanti, Victoria Redel and Rahna Reiko Rizzuto. The theme this year seemed to be process, and tapping into the authentic voice of our work. 
  1. Path Making. Reiko talked about finding our path as writers. “While at Vortext, be here,” she said. “Explore, get lost, look up… The path we create comes from being.” I found so many places to explore my path, from the labyrinth in the woods, to the meditation sanctuary, to the wooden tables where we gathered at lunch to talk about our morning workshops, to the house I shared with five amazing women. Together and alone.
  1. Courage. Hannah gave a profound talk on confronting fear. “Courage isn’t about being a hero,” she said. “It can be an energizer if you figure out how to use it. As Ayn Rand said, ‘It isn’t about who’s going to let me, but who’s going to stop me.”
  1. Did I mention food? (See more in The Hedgebrook Cookbook)
  1. Permission. Dani Shapiro led a workshop on memoir and permission, and the entire long weekend facilitated letting go of judgments and expectations—from open mic to writing with feathers, to writing or just taking a long walk in the woods with a new friend.
  1. Magic. When we show up to do the work—to ourselves—magic does happen. Victoria Redel spoke about the world opening up and giving her the gifts she needs in her work-in-progress: a triangle of light on a building or a father bending to tie his son’s shoe. Vortext was full of magic, full of gifts, and I returned home filled up.


About the Author:

This post was contributed by Jennifer Haupt, a writer based in Seattle and frequent attendee of Hedgebrook events.

Jennifer is a freelance writer who contributes to magazines including: O, The Oprah Magazine, Parents, Reader’s Digest, and Spirituality & Health. She also curates the Psychology Today blog, One True Thing, a collection of essays about the moments that matter most, and is working on her debut novel.




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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.

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