Then another thought came to her, why not build something substantial to leave behind? Hedgebrook is currently the only retreat for female writers, and she figured more opportunities, more cottages, were needed for female writers.
"Why don't I build them?" she said.
The plan is causing excitement at Hedgebrook.
"The world definitely needs more writing retreats so writers can go deeper into their work, and we're absolutely supportive," said Katie Woodzick, external relations manager at the Whidbey Island retreat.
If Storyknife is established, the residency program would provide solitude for six women at a time. The residencies would run anywhere from two to eight weeks, offering women room and board, and silence and solitude to concentrate on their craft.
Stabenow envisions Storyknife benefiting "somebody who is broke, who is discouraged, who has seen every manuscript that she has sent to New York returned like a little homing pigeon, who needs just a little encouragement to just hang in there until her ship comes in," Stabenow said.
It can also be the woman who gets up at 4 a.m. to have an hour to write before her family and life consumes the rest of the day.
Phase one kicked off last week — a year to raise $1 million to construct the main building, cottages, roads and septic system. The goal is to break ground next April.
"If someone wrote a $1 million check or four $250,000 checks today, the builder could start tomorrow," Stabenow said.
But she's also realistic. "I don't know how many people there are with a million dollars who are inclined to give it to a writers' retreat."
The project is accepting donations at www.storyknife.org. If, after a year, the plan isn't realized, she says all donations will be returned, minus credit card processing fees.