Wednesday, May 11, 2011

3.5 Weeks In Paradise

I recently returned from almost four weeks at Hedgebrook, a women's writer's retreat on Whidbey Island in Washington State. The opportunity to spend that time engaging deeply with my own writing and other women writers was truly one of the most magical that I have ever had. I feel it changed me a lot, especially changed my relationship to writing and made me take myself more seriously as a writer. I had a lot of time and space to reflect on the purpose of writing and to remember that writing really does, at its core, change the world. (Hedgebrook's tag line is "Women Authoring Change.")

It was really special to be in a place that has nurtured the creative spirit of giants of women's writing, like Gloria Anzaldua and Adrienne Rich. To read the journal entries left by Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Gloria Steinem and Ursula LeGuin, and feel that by leaving my own entry I was in a tiny way blending my voice with theirs to make a great writer's soup to nourish the women who come after me. I was privileged to meet some amazing writers, whose work and friendship I will cherish always, and to find a kindred spirit in a local woman who offered to take me to lunch one day.

I have never written so deeply or with so much joy. I wrote pages and pages most days, without even noticing the passage of time. I was gifted with that precious experience I've heard of but never really believed in - where I felt I was watching my story unfold and only had to write it down. We will see what comes of it in terms of representation, publication and readership - the forms of outward success. But the inward success of knowing I did the best writing I could do, finding characters whose company I enjoyed, who whispered to me not only what needed to happen in my current book but where they (think they) want to go next - that no one can ever take from me and I thank Hedgebrook so so much for choosing me and Murder Under the Fig Tree for this adventure.

Check out my photos.

The website is for any woman writer (and writing is construed pretty broadly - the woman who took over my cottage was a very talented songwriter I went to hear the other night at a local club) who might want to apply in the future. The application deadline is in September for the year. And even though I know everyone is stretched in terms of donations, if you want to nurture women's creativity and bring out the voices of women hungry for change, please think about adding Hedgebrook to the organizations you support.

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