Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Returning to Hedgebrook, in My Mind

In the fall of 2006, I spent three weeks here, thanks to the Hedgebrook Foundation:
It was a meditative experience, being in that cottage in the woods, immersed in solitude, with that whispery silence all around me. It made me realize that I could live happily in such a place, being taken care of and doing nothing at all. So I grew slightly frantic, and wrote a very rough, patchy, uncertain, oh, let's just call it a plain bad novel draft in three weeks flat. Set it aside and couldn't bear to look at it for the next four years.

Since then I have occasionally felt overcome by guilt. I should have finished that novel by now. It should be out and in print by now. Oh, why did they throw that residency away on me?

But now I remember what Hedgebrook's Executive Director Amy Wheeler said to me when I was going through my moments of panic during those three weeks. She said, "Don't be too hard on yourself. Sometimes this place evokes writing that can only come together after you've left."

In my case, long after. Four years later, this novel is pouring itself out onto the page.  I still don't know how it all ends, but the mists of the island have apparently been right here in my mind all along.

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