Takeback Tuesday is Team LRK’s weekly vote of confidence in the future. After a week that’s seen a flood of Impossibilities, from Bannon to #MuslimBan, gush across the country, I begin to suspect the strategy is to dump so much on us that we go whimpering away. I don’t think that’s going to happen, and I have much to say about the events of this past week—but when you’re caught in a flood, sometimes you need something sturdy to cling to, even something that looks small, as you wait for the torrent to subside.
Such as: helping new writers find their voices.
Today’s guest is my good friend Dana Stabenow, who is laying her land on the line for the next generation of women writers:
In 1988 I was accepted for a residency at Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island outside of Seattle. I spent two weeks living and writing in my own cabin, and evenings talking shop with the other writers in residence over dinner. It was the first time anyone had ever acted around me like writing was a real job, and it was my first time meeting other writers like me.
Three years ago Hedgebrook invited me back for their 25th anniversary, when they told me they now have an average of 1,400 applicants for 40 spaces in a six-month semester. Six cabins aren’t enough. So I conceived of the idea of Storyknife, a second retreat for women writers, this one on four acres of view property in Homer, Alaska. Following the Hedgebrook template, there will be six cabins in which six women writers will live and write, and a main house, where they will gather for dinner each evening.
Women’s voices matter. It seems like an obvious statement; of course they do. But women writers are still underrepresented in books printed, screenplays produced, in reviews of our work, on the bestseller list, I could go on. So let me say it again: Women’s voices matter, and given current events they now matter more than ever. Storyknife’s mission is to nurture those voices with time spent in a place devoted solely to honing their craft. The first night of my first stay at Hedgebrook I started to help clear the table after dinner, and Hedgebrook angel Nancy Nordhoff said, “Sit down, Dana. You’ve already done your work for the day.”
It was the seminal moment in my life as an author. It is my hope to pass that moment on to other aspiring authors in this moment when they are, as I was then, in sore need of it.
Homer, Alaska poet Eva Saulitis died in 2016 and in her honor we’d like to name the main house of Storyknife “Eva’s House.” To that end, we’re going to try to raise $250,000 by Valentine’s Day in 2017. Peggy Shumaker and Joe Usibelli have offered to match your donations two-for-one, which means your donations only have to total $82,500 and they will match the rest. It is incredibly generous of Peggy and Joe and a wonderful way to commemorate a much-beloved woman writer. Follow the link to donate, here—and thank you!