Yesterday I came home from a three-week residency at the Hambidge Center for the Arts. This is the first time I’ve stayed there longer than two weeks. The Hambidge Center is located in Rabun County, Georgia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are numerous trails on the 600+ acres of the Hambidge Center, which fellows enjoy. Each resident stays in a fully furnished cabin and the only requirement is that each resident has dinner with the other artist fellows. Oh, and the dinner is prepared by a Cordon Bleu trained chef, who prepares a vegetarian meal four days a week. With dessert, no less. There were five other residents my first week. Two other writers, a weaver, a photographer, and a videographer. There can be up to nine residents at a time, I think, but I may be wrong. My last week had seven fellows, some were writers and well as artists so the lines weren’t quite so distinct.
One of the highlights of my stay was seeing a black bear on the road leading to the Cove, my cabin. I’d been wanting to see a bear, but when I did, I was glad I was in my car, because I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had come upon it while walking. And I did walk down that road quite a bit. But I got to watch the bear run back up the mountain.
My goal was to write 200 pages of rough draft, and Reader, I did it! I’m motivated by deadlines, so my last week, I was really kicking it to make up for a slow start and after a weekend visit by my favorite person.This is a very rough draft and I tend to write a lot of dialogue first, then fill in details later. I’ll be posting soon about sh*tty first drafts, as Anne Lamott calls them.
When not writing, I concentrated on reading books that were in some way related to the time period and place of the novel–western Virginia during and after the Civil War, or books related to African American history, especially African American women’s work post-slavery. One book I read was “The Souls of Black Folk,” by W. E. B. du Bois. Such elegant writing!
The challenge of coming home is trying to keep up the intensity of writing. I’ve written two pages of my novel, today, but I’ll do better tomorrow, I’m sure of it.