In April I was privileged to spend a week in eastern Tennessee, not far from the historic Cumberland Gap. The poet Denton Loving has launched an unusual writing residency based in a small house he owns on a country lane. (That lane is literally just one lane wide—I hadn’t been on a road that narrow since my childhood in Colombia!)
It’s a magical part of the country.
The unusual nature of this residency is the solitude. Denton is available to answer questions & solve problems—he’s a wonderful host—but there’s no wifi, so communication with the outside world is iffy (WhatsApp worked quite well for me, though) and there are no other writers or artists to chat or share meals or work with. The quietness is wonderful for getting work done! I revised my current poetry manuscript, wrote two poems, revised one picture book manuscript, started revising another and discovered that it’s really TWO stories, made thumbnail sketches for a wordless picture book, journaled a lot, read a novel. Then there was the drive home, nearly nine hours of thinking, when my picture book ideas exploded and became a series of eight or nine books!
The little house has a delightfully retro feel.
About meals: I wanted to minimize effort, so I brought ingredients to make a big pot of veggie/bean soup. I also brought granola, fruit, tortillas, cheese, & soy milk.
I was out and about for a while each day. The house is on an enticing wooded hill, and spring was much further along in Tennessee than in Illinois—everything was green, fresh, blooming.
Long walks were part of my agenda for the residency. The hill woods are actually crisscrossed with fencing, so a few days in, after I had accomplished all the writing listed above, I drove off to Cumberland National Historical Park. Having gotten a quick orientation from a nice young woman at the visitor center, I drove up to Pinnacle Point, from which you can see parts of three states: Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky.
Then I drove down to a trailhead to go to the Gap itself. That involved a pleasant, leisurely hike of about an hour roundtrip.
If you’re a writer & your heart yearns toward mountains, as mine does, you might want to apply for this residency! You can do so here. Tell Denton I sent you!