We’ve been waking up to some cold mornings out here at Three Graces Farm. Though there hasn’t been any snow yet, the ground is covered with a thick frost, sparkling like diamonds in the grass in the early sun. The first thing to do on days like this is get a good fire going in the wood stove and put a pot of water on to heat up the coffee pot.
Everything else can begin from there, feeding the animals, fixing breakfast, sitting down to assess the day and begin. I’m reminded of the summer our family spent doing volunteer work in a village in Tanzania. The women living in the little huts all around us would be up before daybreak, getting the fire going out in the yard so they could heat water, cook, and clean. There was a saying amongst them that if you didn’t get up and get the fire going, your children would starve. Fortunately, my grown children don’t depend on me to light that fire every morning, but the saying is true as it pertains to the offspring of my creative energy, stories that are waiting to be told. There is a creative fire that must be ignited, tended and stoked on a regular basis. I just found ample fuel for that fire, as I was fortunate to be able to travel to north Georgia this past weekend for the Dahlonega Literary Festival. It was an inspiration not only to meet other authors, but also to spend time lingering over a meal or at various book tables, talking to them about their writing, their publication and marketing experiences and how all of this fits into their daily lives.
A highlight of the weekend was participating as a panelist in a discussion of “Appalachia in Fact and Fiction,” along with first novelists Ann Hite, author of Ghost on Black Mountain and Katherine Scott Crawford, who wrote Keowee Valley. Also on the panel were humorist Nick Wynne and novelist Walton Young. Though I’ve known her from social media as a fellow first novelist, I finally got to meet in person Kimberly Brock, author of The River Witch. We had a wonderful time getting to know Janie Demsey Watts, writer of Moon Over Taylor Ridge and Dr. Janet Page, author of 365 Days to I Do, and their husbands, Steve and Jim. I was especially fortunate to share a wonderful lunch with Jackie K. Cooper, memoir writer, movie reviewer and book reviewer for The Huffington Post, and his wife, Terry, both of whom are not only warm, wonderful people, but also inspiring in their life work and experience. And so, after such an enriching weekend, meeting and sharing with all of these talented folks in the lovely setting of Dahlonega, I return to Three Graces Farm with my creative fire kindled anew, aiming to keep the wood stove stoked and the inspiration well fed.