The first words that came to mind when I stepped onto Hedgebrook ground were, “Thank you.” I couldn’t have planned a more perfect setting for me to retreat to and work in. All of the details were designed just for me. The hand crafted cottages with a kitchen, wood burning stove, reading nook and large work station. Perfect. Being surrounded by the woods. Perfect. Within view of the ocean. Perfect. Bikes ready in the barn for me to use at any time. Perfect. A lovely garden of flowers and fruit and veggies. Picking sugar snap peas and eating them fresh is the best along with yellow raspberries. Perfect. A 5:30pm dinner call where you sit down to eat a meal prepared for you and are joined by six amazing women whom you’ve just met but by the next day you feel like you already know. Perfect. Words. Writing lots of words because you don’t have fear here. You don’t doubt. You just press through.
My cabin: Fir
To have two weeks to myself like this was just glorious and such a gift. Hedgebrook are masters at what they call “radical hospitality.” It was radical because I was able to accept others serving and waiting on me. I was able to find my own rhythm of doing work without having to worry about anything else. There were no children. No outside pressures. Nothing but myself.
on a clear day you can see Mt. Rainier
I had read that confronting the self during my stay at Hedgebrook might be difficult, so I tried to prepare myself before hand. I told myself that I might get lonely or feel frustrated or bored. But none of this happened. I allowed myself to feel and accept and come to Hedgebrook with open hands, and I think this is what helped me. It was also helpful to have community with women every night, something I never do.
the garden from which all meals were prepared and we could pick from
As far as word count went, I pretty much wrote 2,000 words a day. There was one day I didn’t write at all and I was a bit anxious about it, but I let it go. I was there to do what I would do, no more, no less. In the end, I came home with 23,000 words of a new novel. The one I had been scared to write.
At the moment Hedgebrook is receiving applicants for it’s next session. I strongly encourage you to apply!
This novel. Oh boy. Now that I’m home (I’ve been back a week) the doubts have started to come.
The words. You know, the “you’re never going to be able to write this” the “no one will want to read it” the “this is hard, what if I don’t get it right?” the “I’m not really a writer. I’ll never be able to write another good story again” the “I suck.”
my reading nook
So reentry has been difficult. While at Hedgebrook I gave myself to the writing and didn’t let myself dwell on much else. Maybe this is why it flowed because even when I wasn’t writing…when I was running or biking or walking or sitting and staring out the window, the story was always going.
One of my favorite spots to sit
At home it’s been a lot of start and stop. Interruptions all the time. Kids off for the summer. Me looking for a teaching job because you know, money. Cleaning. Planning meals. Paying parking tickets…
I’m afraid I’ve lost my flow. I need it back. This story I’m trying to tell requires courage. I don’t have time for stupid fear. It requires risk and the possibility, maybe even the probability of failure. And so I know I have to do it.
I know I don’t need a cabin in the woods. I don’t need rabbits and deer passing me in the morning. I don’t need the view of the ocean.
I need me, my laptop and some black coffee. Back to 6am writing sessions.
I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and ready.
A lavender farm nearby