Spring 2021


The Gift of Flight

Sydney Elliott, Managing Editor (Class of 2015)

The Gift of Flight


Sydney Elliott
Managing Editor
Class of 2015

This past year, most of us had to adapt to changes in writing routines, travel, and even summer residency. We yearned for sweltering nights in Harstad and pizza hangovers from Farrelli’s. Most of all, our writing lives have had to evolve as we seek out unique ways to fulfill our Outside Experience or find the space to flee our lives and dedicate ourselves to our writing.

But Holly Hughes—RWW alum, and former Outside Experience coordinator for thirteen years—saw an opportunity to create Flying Squirrel Studio, a retreat for writers in Indianola, Washington. It is a 600 square foot cabin that is tailored for writing. The studio features a sleeping loft, kitchen area, bathroom, and plenty of books. (WiFi is available if needed, too.) “This little studio is where I did all my writing for RWW, so it feels good to be able to offer it to other RWW writers to enjoy,” Holly says. “Plus, I’m grateful to live in Indianola, where the beach is just a ten-minute walk away—the perfect place to go when you need a break from writing.”

Holly has offered Flying Squirrel Studio to RWW for the Outside Experience, joining the Vermont Studio and the Anderson Center in offering another residency option for RWW students. For those who can’t get away for two weeks, she’s offering 5-day stays, Thursday–Tuesday, designed to make it easier for those who work to take advantage of a long weekend. And if you’ve already completed your OE (or graduated) you can still consider a retreat at Flying Squirrel Studio; five retreats are available to women writers living in the PNW region.

“'This little studio is where I did all my writing for RWW, so it feels good to be able to offer it to other RWW writers to enjoy.'”

Second year student Rachel Sandell (2022) had this to say about her recent retreat at Flying Squirrel Studio:

My stay at Flying Squirrel Studio was definitely a bright spot in my RWW Outside Experience. The cabin is very cute, homey, and warm, a great relaxing spot, complete with a fun collection of teas (there was even a mint chocolate flavor that was delicious). It’s beautifully furnished, including the comfiest office chair I’ve ever used, and I loved climbing up and down the old library ladder to the bed in the loft! It’s the perfect quiet, contemplative spot to get some quality writing time without distractions, and when breaks are needed, there is an entire shelf full of poetry books just waiting to be enjoyed.… Indianola’s community is friendly and welcoming, and Holly is such a helpful presence; she checked in every once in a while to see how I was doing and if I needed anything. All in all, Flying Squirrel Studio allowed me to reconnect with the spark of creativity that had died down a little since COVID-19 struck, and because of this retreat, I was able to make great progress on the draft I’m working on.

Flying Squirrel Studio has a larger mission as well: Holly plans to use the proceeds from writers’ stays to help fund fellowships for indigenous women writers and scholars. She hopes to begin these residencies in 2022, pandemic allowing.

Looking to stay at Flying Squirrel Studio might be just the thing to escape from the challenges of the world, and remind us that we are writers and there is space for that, even if it’s the dining room table for now. I personally can’t wait to spend some time at Flying Squirrel Studio (and I want to see a flying squirrel!).

Thank you, Holly. You are a gift to RWW that keeps on giving.

For more information on Flying Squirrel Studio, go here.

Holly J. Hughes (2006) is the author of Hold Fast, Passings, and Sailing by Ravens, coauthor of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, editor of the award-winning anthology Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, and co-editor of Contemplative Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education. Her fine-art chapbook Passings received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 2017. Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, were featured in An American Life in Poetry, have appeared in many anthologies—most recently, Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems—and have been set to music by Minneapolis composer Edie Hill.