Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One-Week Bonus Life at Doe Branch Ink

This is the kind of extra life that is like a surprise package. I agreed to run a writing group at a house deep in the North Carolina mountains. Miles from a paved road. I showed up.


And now I'm three days into an eight-day experience far from my regular world. It will be a chunk of time with distinct edges that allows me to operate a little differently than I might otherwise.

Doe Branch Ink is a brand-new writers' retreat center not too far from Hot Springs in the Blue Ridge. The main house holds all of us this time. Meals are catered. There's a stream ten minutes down the steep mountainside that joins with another stream and runs into the French Broad River. After lunch today, one of the other writers and I took an hour-plus hike downstream to a series of waterfalls with a 30 foot drop. It was a sturdy climb coming back to the house.

We all have been writing on and off all day, and then had a reading and critiquing session in the living room at four. Food report: Dinner was pork loin with apples, cheese grits, salad, and a dessert of walnut brownies with vanilla ice cream. And wine.

The company is excellent. The writers are extremely varied in style and interest, and all experienced at giving useful feedback, an interestingly convivial group: a woman who grew up French who's writing a memoir (and who was very curious about the naming of the nearby French Broad River), an academic/former reporter with a rather startling nonfiction interest, a business owner writing women's fiction, a well-known retired liberal minister who is writing articles. And the on-site manager is also a novelist.

The house has writing stations on the porch, the deck, the sunroom, the loft, the bunkhouse near the main house. Lots of good views. And people have been productive. Most of them more so than I have been.

But I have started a new chapter on a novel I'm working on. Haven't proceeded far into it, but I needed to get it underway.

Bold Bonus Life Tip #6: A radical shift of place and routine, even brief, can get stuck projects get moving. Especially when one is surrounded by like-minded supportive folks.



Add to del.icio.us - Stumble It! - Subscribe to this feed - Digg it

10 comments:

kenju said...

Dinner sounded good!! I know the surroundings are lovely.

Peggy Payne said...

And there were biscuits and sausage this morning for breakfast, Kenju. I feel as if I'm on a rustic mountain cruise ship.

billie said...

Wow, Peggy - this really sounds like fun. I wonder if writing groups can "rent" the entire space for a week? Would be fun to go with a familiar group (in addition to going solo and meeting new people).

Peggy Payne said...

They do rent the place to groups, Billie. The person to contact is Jim Roberts, jroberts@doebranchink.org.

Lynne said...

I'm back...and curious..what exactly is STUNNING non fiction..hmmmm

Anonymous said...

if this life is actually hell as some'd have us believe , u musta' behaved well indeed while alive to get to stay a while in an especially pleasant Circle of it. aiki

Peggy Payne said...

Well, Aiki, I'm not one who believes this life is hell, though it does have some problematic moments. I do feel lucky to be invited to do this.

Peggy Payne said...

Actually, it was STARTLING nonfiction, Lynne. The subject matter was extremely edgy -- sorta death-related.

Lynne said...

oh, well thanks...I was just curious...startling non fiction...I'm finally reading On The Road..does that count? Probably not...not startling or stunning.

Peggy Payne said...

I still haven't read it, Lynne. Let me know if you highly recommend it.