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Finding Inspiration
Contributor
Written by
Brooke Warner
December 2012
Outlining
Contributor
Written by
Brooke Warner
December 2012
Outlining

Last weekend my partner and I were invited up to Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island, Washington, for an amazingly luxurious purpose: to taste food. (She Writes Press is publishing The Hedgebrook Cookbook—awesome.) I guess this is how food critics must live, but for me it was the equivalent of being invited to a resort that needed willing subjects for their massage therapists to practice on.

There’s a long list of reasons why the getaway was amazing. The company and the food at Hedgebrook were exquisite; we had the grounds completely to ourselves—yes, all one hundred and forty-some acres; as a couple, my wife and I don’t spend enough time together (we have a toddler), and it was a rare opportunity for a workaholic like me to force myself to unplug.

But way bigger than all of these things put together was the energy of Hedgebrook. Here’s a place solely dedicated to supporting and nurturing women writers. In every room are journals in which residents share their insights, struggles, and general musings about their time, the land, the space, the women who’ve come before them and the women who will come after. We stayed in Meadowhouse, where Gloria Steinem, Ruth Ozeki, Dorothy Allison, Karen Joy Fowler, Ayelet Waldman, and many other illustrious, interesting, generous, and committed writers had stayed before us.

Reading what each of these women wrote made me realize (again) the power of being in community. It was not the physical presence of other women, but the energy of their words living on in these journals, their willingness to share their experience, process, desires, deadlines, accomplishments, frustrations. There was a recurring theme there, too, of women feeling taken in, somehow rescued from themselves. Were it not for the space Hedgebrook provided them, it seemed, many of them would have stopped, failed, toiled on despondently, often in the wrong direction.

Furthermore, the space allowed them something that’s so often elusive to women writers—the space to listen to their inner wisdom, to come back to their center. Isn’t this what anyone who writes is chasing, after all? The calm in the center of the storm. The place where words perfectly articulate a message. The joy of language expressed precisely, beautifully, simply.

I’ve always been a supporter of writers rather than a writer. I completed a book, but in my heart I’m an author advocate and publishing expert. I’ve cherished this role because there’s nothing more rewarding to me than the act of creating something that touches others. Being in publishing, however, has sometimes made the entire process of seeing a book project through to completion mundane. I’ve never really sought out inspiration, or found a way to cultivate it. Maybe none of us do. But when it hits, it hits hard. The annual Book Expo, for instance, every year, without fail, inspires me. To attend a convention dedicated to books, and to be among people who live and breathe books, moves me, without fail, every single year.

Hedgebrook, too, inspires me. This was my second visit, and it has that tingly, mind-buzzing effect that I’ve come to recognize as inspiration. She Writes inspires me, too. Being part of this online community of writers who cares about craft, process, and about each other moves me. Kamy has said that she founded She Writes because, as a writer, she created something that she wanted and needed. I, for one, am grateful. My pledge to myself in the aftermath of my visit to Hedgebrook is simple: to cultivate more space and time to listen, and hopefully, in doing so, to cultivate inspiration and invite it into my life.

 

Where do you find inspiration?

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Comments
  • Kathryne Arnold

    Brooke,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. Very inspiring words for other writers. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kamy Wicoff Brainstorming

    Brooke, what a lovely post.  Having been lucky enough to drink the air of Hedgebrook, and share in its inspiration and legacy, I can relate!  And I'm so glad you shared the experience here.

  • Lori Romero

    Lovely, inspiring article, Brooke! Thank you for sharing this!

  • Brooke Warner Outlining

    @Susan. Exciting. Love this image of you being lost in your words.

  • Susan Ring

    Love this Brooke! I always find inspiration in nature, women supporting women (SheWrites) also inspires me. The most inspiration I've found lately is being completely lost in my words as I'm writing and feeling every word as I write, as if nothing else is around except the story that I am writing. 

  • Alexandra Caselle

    I enjoyed reading your article. I have always wanted to travel to a writers' residency or summer institute for the community and the feedback from featured authors. Perhaps timing and money will align itself one day for it to happen. Like Agnes, I get inspiration from morning walks along the beach at Little Talbot Island State Park. The surroundings help me get ideas for my writing and they also help me meditate. I use the voice recorder on my phone to capture ideas but I wish I could rerain myself to write by hand since my laptop has crashed..

  • Brooke Warner Outlining

    @Agnes. Thanks for your comment. I know a lot of writers who do daily morning walks. That's very inspiring to me, too! Thank you, as well, @Dera. This is a huge motivator. I'm sure a lot of writers and fellow grandmas can relate to this one. Thanks for sharing. Brooklynn is lucky. :)

  • This was a beautiful post. I find inspiration in the face of my two year-old granddaughter, Brooklynn Aria. Her innocence and unconditional trust and love spark the resolve to research, write and pass on the history and culture of my ancestors and the communities from which they come. My belief in sharing stories, both fiction and nonfiction that stem from family history, is a testament to one's place in the world. That desire is what inspires and nurtures my soul and gives meaning to the sacrifices, pain and joy my ancestors experienced. What was accomplished in the past is the root and drive for future generations.

  • Agnes Macmillan

    Reading successful writers' reflections about their own writing experiences can, indeed, be inspiring. Knowing when to pause and allow temporal and physical space to settle the busy mind is helpful, too. Walking every morning in the ruggedly beautiful setting of my home is my source of balance - the senses are alert and the physical activity compensates for the sedentary nature of writing. I love my morning walks!!

  • Brooke Warner Outlining

    @Betsy. Yes, you must set the intention. It's exquisite!

  • Betsy Graziani Fasbinder

    I've set aside the teeny bit of envy I have for your weekend at what sounds like heaven (a very teeny envy because you completely deserve a weekend of pampering and inspiration and I wouldn't begrudge it in the slightest) and have decided to add Hedgebrooke as a new element of envisioning events in my not-too-distant future.  Ohmmmmmm. 

  • Pat Sabiston

    I believe "community" is as important as "solitude"; it's a very delicate balance and one I'd like to achieve in the new year.

  • Paula Wagner

    Winding down and gearing up. Hmm... a great way to describe the vacuum between endings and new beginnings. But balancing these opposing forces can feel like the push/pull of a weird dance among odd partners - patience, persistence, hope and acceptance - each tugging in opposite directions and trying not to step on each other's toes. But we have to trust that inspiration will fill the vacuum.

  • Brooke Warner Outlining

    Thanks, Bella! You're so generous. :)

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Brooke, you have all the inspiration you need. Embracing and trusting it is the key. And don't fool yourself—you are a gifted publisher and generous author advocate—but you are also a writer! Perhaps you are just now claiming this truth? I LOVE your writing—and I'm sure countless others do too! So happy you had such a lovely stay at Hedgebrook. You and Krista deserved that time off! Or ON!

  • Daphne Q

    Brooke... thanks for posting.. it's so important to find inspiration wherever you can