Grace Hwang Lynch
Grace Hwang Lynch is a journalist and essayist. She writes about issues involving race, culture, parenting, food -- and often the intersection of all four. She has been a contributor to PBS, PRI, Library Journal, and Mom.me. For the past eight years, she has run the award-winning blog HapaMama, which focuses on experiences of mixed race Asian American families.
Did the retreat meet your expectations?
Ahead of time, I had in mind a few chapters I wanted to write which would bring me close to finishing a rough draft of my memoir. By the week’s end, I had completed those chapters, plus I had time to explore the area and sleep in every morning. So I was thrilled with the experience, both in terms of relaxation and inspiration and in the actual words I was able to get on the page.
What was the most unexpected part of your stay?
I was surprised that I turned my whole schedule upside down! Usually, I’m a morning person — and especially a morning writer — but maybe because I didn’t have the usual constraints of rushing to take care of family and work, that I was able to have slow coffee and breakfast in the morning and wander around the area, then stay up late at night writing. The weather was pretty rainy while I was there and the roads near Moshin are windy and dark, so I tried to take advantage of daylight hours to go out and then bunker down in the late afternoon to write through the evening.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of your retreat?
The Monday evening Moshin Salon was wonderful! I really enjoyed meeting the other writers and the many lovely guests and to talk about literature and the writing life.
Did the vineyard setting inspire you and/or your writing? In what ways?
Going into the retreat, I already had in mind a couple themes about fruit, agriculture, and wine. While it wasn’t “research” per se, being in the setting of the grapevines and the surrounding orchards and other farms probably did influence my writing, such as a chapter about my family’s obsessive relationship with fruit trees.
What did you work on during the retreat?
I wrote rough drafts of four chapters of my memoir, a collection of essays about the food, parenting, and my Taiwanese culture.
What other activities did you do during the retreat—any hiking, or exploring the local area?
I haven’t spent much time in Sonoma County before (even though I live just a few hours away) so I explored Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Guerneville, Armstrong Woods, Sonoma Coast State Park. Since it was mid-week, when I visited the Luther Burbank home, I got a private tour of the gardens — again in my fruit/agriculture theme. As a long-time Peanuts fan, I also stopped by the Charles Shultz Museum. There are many excellent restaurants in the area, too!
Any tips or advice you think might be helpful for future residency applicants?
Definitely ease into it. I arrived early Monday afternoon and knew that between settling in and getting reading for the salon that evening, I wouldn’t do any writing. So to stretch my legs after the long drive and to get myself in the right frame of mind before the reading, I went on a short hike in Armstrong Woods. I also spent some time the next morning exploring the area before really diving into writing in the afternoon.
Also, don’t be too tied to a set plan but don’t be afraid to plan ambitiously. It’s surprising how much more writing can be done and what parts of your mind you can access when away from the tasks of daily life.