Saturday, March 29, 2014

North Meets South

(At the Common Man Restaurant in Ashland, New Hampshire)
Up here in the frozen hills and valleys of New Hampshire's North Country, there aren't nearly as many choices as in the southern parts of our fair state. Grocery stores don't offer the same variety, the Chinese restaurants don't deliver, and, for the most part, everything's a drive.  But where we excel is in the creative brilliance of our local writers and artists. I was and continue to be blown away by the quality of friends we've made since landing in Xanadu little over a year ago. Many of the fine folks who share in our life here feel like they've been part of the storyline for far longer.  We're blessed, truly.  And more than a little humbled.

I left an amazing writers' group when we bought our home and packed up our lives for this new adventure -- somewhere in time, I'm still sitting at that table in the coffee-and-donut hut, hours before the meeting, headphones on, writing away and euphoric in anticipation of the arrival of my fellow comrades-in-pen. I had no idea what to expect when I began to interact with the scribes in my new community.  Those in the Berlin Writers' Group who have become a second family are, quite simply, among the best.

When we held our first writers' party in our new home last May, members of both groups got to meet and read and break bread.  Turns out, many of the gang from up here knew, through others, writers from down there, and fast friendships began to form.  So quickly that, within months, North and South were attending one another's group meetings, retreats, and two more parties here.  I always felt my new group was a sibling and offshoot to my southern community anyway, based upon the quite solid format laid out by founder and scribe, James Keough.  Two fantastic groups.  A wealth of riches.

(With writer Karen Dent -- Karen is a former actress and once performed on
my favorite soap, the late, great lamented One Life to Live)
So when Jonathan Dubey suggested a meet-and-greet between North and South at a halfway point, not even snow, slush, or slick roads kept eighteen of us from gathering to read fresh pages and enjoying a fine dinner together. Jonathan orchestrated reserving an entire dining room at the Common Man Restaurant in the town of Ashland, and all were invited to share up to 1,200 words of writing for the reading portion of the event.  I read the opening to my new mystery short story, "The Debonairs," about aging Hollywood TV detectives who take up the case after one of their own dies under dubious circumstances.  Others treated us to poetry, novel excerpts, and entire completed stories.  The variety was, as usual, inspiring.  The company was quality of the finest.  Our waitress remarked how much she wanted to hang out in the room and listen to the readings.  But then the readings ended too soon, and suddenly it was time for coffee and dessert.

(Writers' groups -- plural)
The meet-and-greet between groups was an amazing and joyous event, one that will resonate long after the happy hours spent in the restaurant with some of my favorite people and writers in the universe. After goodbyes, I departed with two of my friends and overnighted down in Massachusetts, where I got to enjoy their company and two days of writing and reading stories aloud in front of the wood stove, and also spent needed time with my grandmother, sister, and nieces. Then it was back north where everything was still white and frigid.  But inside, a warm home greeted, and the very next night, I was once more around the big table in the conference room, surrounded by members of the Berlin Writers' Group.  That meeting, in fact, celebrated our one-year anniversary.  Here's to another hundred -- and the next chance to hang with our friends from the south!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your inspiring writing life! Truly, this is what dreams are made of (I know, bad use of preposition at end of sentence, but hey...).