It would be sort of obnoxious to continue to add photos here. Surely, these provide a general idea of how beautiful Hedgebrook is. You can check out more images on the hedgebrook website.
What these photos don't capture, what they could never capture, are the wonderful people who make up Hedgebrook. In particular, I was honored to get to know the lovely writers with whom I was in residence.
Here are some links to info about a few of the amazing women and their projects:
Jennifer Sullivan Corkern and her She Writes site (which reminded me that I've been meaning to join that cool network of women writers)
Kim, Amani, Lisi too!
Ladies, those conversations at the farmhouse table were invaluable. I learned so much from each of you. Thank you again for your kindness and patience.
Finally-- in this epic long post I would like to include my journal entry:
All of the Hedgebrook cottages have a shelf full of journals where writers in residence past leave their thoughts and notes on their experience, advice for writers to come and thanks to Hedgebrook.
Here is my journal entry for June 6-June 28, 2012, Waterfall Cottage:
I'm guessing you don't always get to live this life.
At Hedgebrook you can live in your work. Allow it to take over--engulf. While it may not always be enjoyable (this writing process is not without its pain), here you feel support through your struggle. Alone in this cottage--yes--but not alone. There is the founder, a kind of patron saint that woman, all of the writers who came before you, and all of the lovely, patient, talented and dear staff who make this a true place of exception. A community to care for you. Sure, it's a little woo-woo, but the heart of this place is undeniable.
Here, you can enjoy some of the best of this world. You can, as if in some cheesy self-romance novel, take a bath in the claw foot tub with homemade bath salts by candlelight and eat garden fresh strawberries with organic dark chocolate at the same time, you can fill your cottage with flowers, you can read by the fire, you can write in the window seat look out at a small meadow and see a bunny hop, eat delicious healthy meals lovingly prepared almost to your whims, stroll through magic fairyland like paths, and open your half-door and call out "hello!" to your wonderful neighbor walking by.
I do not mock.
But I will say that, at times, it was a little hard to reconcile with my work. More often than not, my fiction follows around troubled people in a troubled world. I have an affinity for a gritty urban landscape. Often, I had to play depressing music to retain a sense of balance, to even recognize my own work.
Yet--there is not a contradiction.
Hedgebrook helped me remember what is possible. The kindness of strangers. The importance of good days. What it is like to truly sit with myself for a significant amount of time and face my self-sabotage, my errors, my rough-rough first drafts and even my potential.
When I got word of my acceptance here, I was at first ecstatic. Such joy when checking one's email on one's phone while driving is a reminder of why it is unsafe to check one's email on one's phone while driving. Having avoided death, my next reaction was an overwhelming sense of responsibility: Oh shit--I've got to do this - do this.
I am honored.