Friday, July 27, 2012

The Appalachian Writers Workshop

By Susan

     Last July I began researching writers' workshops. I even submitted a very late and frantic application to the Appalachian Writers Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky, my home state, with the hopes of a last second  and miraculous acceptance. One year ago today, the executive director, Mike Mullins, replied with a very kind note that he appreciated my enthusiasm, yet the workshop was completely filled and that he had a waiting list. He took my address and added my name to their mailing list for the following year.
     In February of this year, right around the time I was completing my application for this year's workshop, Mike Mullins, 63, died unexpectedly of a heart attack. For a brief moment, I worried whether I should still apply. I'd never met him, yet remember the kindness of his reply. From my research over the previous months, it seems that the workshop revolved around his influence and leadership. I soon received a letter regarding the upcoming workshop and I decided to send my submission, not sure at all that I would be accepted. I crossed my fingers and waited.
     On Sunday, I will cross the mountains from my hometown of Mt. Sterling to Hindman, Kentucky for my first "real" writing workshop. I've driven over a thousand miles to return to this place, and finally feel adequately prepped for the week long retreat. More and more, I am starting to feel like a real writer.

     I'm hoping to make some friends and enjoy the mountains. Because even though I'm from Kentucky, I'll admit that I've never been to Hindman, the small town nestled in the hollows of coal country where the workshop is held. I grew up in the Bluegrass region, which is quite a bit different from the eastern hills. I'm not sure what to expect. I haven't lived in Kentucky for over twelve years, and I'm a little nervous about how I'll be received. (My daughters, who have made this trip with me, assure me that my accent has returned full-force and I have no reason to worry that I may appear as a Kentucky impostor.)
     More than anything, I hope to renew my love of the words and atmosphere of Kentucky. I'd like to start the next manuscript, dream about new characters, and be able to call my time in the mountains "productive." Then again, maybe I just need to hear the accents of my home, hear the Bluegrass music each evening on the porch, and appreciate the legacy of Mike Mullins, deep in the Kentucky hills.

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