There’s a new writing center in Asheville. Actually, it’s probably the only writing center in an actual building in Asheville. Check out the Flatiron Writers Room in West Asheville. The business is owned by two writers, Maggie Marshall, a former actress and screen writer, now a realtor and writer and Heather Newton, a lawyer and fiction writer. Quite the dynamic duos.
Yesterday, I went to its first major event: a Pop-Up Writing Retreat.
Thirteen writers of all persuasions met in the beautiful space off Haywood Rd.
The writing center consists of several rooms which had obviously been an apartment in its previous life. Some people chose the comfortable couches and soft chairs as their writing space. Others, me included, wanted the dining room table with its straight-back chairs.
Heather Newton, author of Under The Mercy Tree, was the writing coach for the day.
After the usual meet-and-greet with coffee in hand, Heather set us a writing prompt. I think of prompts like stretching before exercising. It allows you to put pen to paper or hands on a keyboard without too much thinking.
Heather asked us to write the ten minutes on “a story about your name”. This was going to be easy for me.
I was named after Danielle Darrieux, a famous French actress that my mother admired… Then I went on to explain how my name turned to Danny.
I’ve only seen Darrieux in one recent movie, 8 Women. Every time this question comes up, I check if Darrieux is still alive. Yep, still breathing at 99 years old.
We shared our writing, then found our way to our writing spot. This was silent time: no talking, no internet, no phone. You were supposed to come prepared to work on your own writing – now write.
Some participants were trying to get some distance from their family and find some quiet time. But most probably had a good set-up. Now why would I need a special place to write when I have a great writing space at home, with all the tea I can drink?
It’s the lack of distractions. For some, it might be food and household chores. For me, it’s the time-wasting attraction of the internet. I do too much research, look up too many facts when I should let the writing flow from my fingers. I hope to bring some of that discipline to my home writing space.
Lunch was at the restaurant next door where we had plenty of time to share our writing goals. Then back to our corners.
Each one of us had scheduled a 20-minute one-to-one meeting with Heather, our writing coach for the day. Heather had parked herself at a coffee shop a block down, away from the quiet of the writing center.
This was your time to use her as a sounding board on whatever writing problem you wanted to work out. Character? Point of view? Plot? Outline? I talked to Heather about my very nebulous plans to write about my Camino journeys, both past and future.
We even got a goodies bag, which included a book of short pieces from the Flat Iron Writers of Asheville, entitled Irons in the Fire.
The pop-up writing retreat was a success in my book, even if I don’t write another book – hah, hah, hah. It showed me again (and again) that if I can focus, I can turn out original material. Once that’s done, it’s just editing. I can do that.
Check out their other events and literary calendars – all coming. It’s going to be a fun place for Western North Carolina writers and readers.