When Gloria Steinem set out to distill her life into a memoir, she landed at Hedgebrook, an artists' retreat dedicated to female writers. Spread across 48 idyllic acres on picturesque Whidbey Island, 30 miles north of Seattle, the retreat draws authors from around the world to its "global campfire," as Steinem describes the experience. "It's hard to believe, but even in 2017, women aren't being published at the same rate as men," says Amy Wheeler, executive director. While this is in part due to plain old sexism, Hedgebrook's view is that it's also because women rarely get time to fulfill their own dreams—they're too busy taking care of everyone else.

Of course, most writers' retreats offer freedom from the distractions of daily life: the cooking, the laundry, the dashing to the store when the toilet paper runs out. But Hedgebrook also liberates attendees from the notorious distractions of so many retreats themselves: literary one-upmanship and the testosterone-fueled hookup scene.

The freedom to focus on craft has a unifying effect. By day, writers do their thing in the property's six storybook-like cottages, Wi-Fi-free and warmed by wood-burning stoves; at group dinner, where established voices share tips and war stories with newbies, all are free to read aloud from their work in progress over wine.

Author and transgender activist Janet Mock arrived at Hedgebrook exhausted and doubtful that she had any more stories to tell. The retreat, she says, offered her "a room of my own at a time when I needed to hear myself again." In a setting where she had the space to "read, reflect, and cry," Mock was able to finish her new book, Surpassing Certainty.

"Here at Hedgebrook," says Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza, who recently started a book while in residence, "I get to exhale and know that the land is holding me, the staff is holding me, my incredible cohort of writers is holding me, and all the women who came before me are holding me, inspiring me with the kind of radical hospitality that occurs only around a table full of women."


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