Last Thursday night I drove out of the rolling pastures of Chatham County to the equally rolling pastures of Alamance County. My drive lead me past a bull, a seedy biker bar, cows grazing with goats, and then to my destination: a vineyard.
Through Google Alerts I learned of a writing workshop at Benjamin Vineyards in Graham, North Carolina. Carrie Knowles, the current Piedmont Laureate, was hosting the event. I don’t make the time to attend creative-focused writing events as much as I do professional ones (see ASJA Writer Conference and Internet Summit), and when I saw this one was less than a half hour from home and in a beautiful place I did not want to pass it up.
Why is this post focused on place? Knowles is hosting several more free writing workshops around North Carolina, and she has specifically chosen unique places because she wants to stress the importance of setting. She will host more workshops at vineyards, historic sites, and then a North Carolina writing workshop on an Amtrak train running from Cary to Burlington (I think this one has a fee). (Remember my Amtrak experiences?) These are all part of her duties as Piedmont Laureate, and if you click the link you will find the scoop on registrations.
Most of the workshops follow a similar format: Knowles speaks about writing topics, those attending have time to write, and then sharing work aloud is optional and Knowles will provide feedback to those who share. After her presentation we were given free reign over the property. You could sit between the vines and write if you desired. We were fortunate to have a non-sticky warm idyllic summer evening. Plus we wrote during the Golden Hour – that precious time just before sunset when everything looks its best. I chose one of the rocking chairs looking west over the vineyard.
Knowles warned us the hour would go by fast, and she was right. I spent the entire time writing a new short story and only looked at the clock a moment before she came out to tell us it was about time we came in.
I bought a bottle of Chardonnay to take home, the group had just enough time to let each writer share poems and parts of stories, and then I bought Knowles’ collection of short stories.
If you haven’t put yourself some place new to write, it is about time.