Just Do It! More Application Advice for Hedgebrook
Last week I posted a short piece on some tips for writing your Hedgebrook application due September 4th. The response has been overwhelming. You might want to take a look at my post especially for the questions and answers in the comments box. I'm offering again to respond to questions you might have about the application process and I've thought of a few more key things you might want to consider.
The decision process happens in two different steps. (Or it has in past years.) In the first reading of your submission, the essay portion is what counts. Yes, even if you are applying as a poet, the essay segment is central. This is different from most other residency applications where the writing sample rules. At Hedgebrook, you need to pass the essay segment before your writing sample is judged.
Why Hedgebrook? Why now? That is what you must answer. Know that this is a question that should reveal something about yourself. Are you the mother of a young child? Are you working on the final revisions of a chapbook? Do you have a new project that is burning inside you and needs doing now? These are all legitimate answers to the question Why Hedgebrook? Why now? Know that how you say what you say is key because honestly, people's circumstances are not all that different in the end. Be honest. Be yourself. Write your best.
Also, remember there are now several ways to stay at Hedgebrook. A few times a year there are Master Classes held where six writers work closely with a "master" teacher such as Carolyn Forche, Ellen McLaughlin, and Dani Shapiro. You can find out about current master classes right here. Several years ago I took a Master Class with Carolyn Forche at Hedgebrook --- and it was absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend this as another option for a stay at Hedgebrook.
Most of all, know that you should just do it: apply. Every year the readers change so your chances begin at 100%. And once you create your writing sample and answer the essay questions for Hedgebrook, you're set to do other residency applications. The time you spend putting the application together is well spent. Filling out applications also allows you to take yourself seriously as a writer.
As I have said before, Hedgebrook changed my life. Radical hospitality is what Amy Wheeler, Hedgebrook's director, calls the treatment of love and support women find upon entering the grounds. I remember Denise, a Hedgebrook staffer, helping me bring my bags into my cottage. I remember a bowl of fruit on the window ledge and a vase of flowers set out to greet me. It seemed (and perhaps was true) that no one had ever welcomed me so warmly in my life.
Eighteen years later, I'm still in love with Hedgebrook and still involved in a volunteer capacity. This is an intensely transformative place. A place it would be very hard not to love.
If you have questions about the application process or the place, feel free to leave a message in the comment box. You can sign-in as anonymous if that feels more comfortable.