In February, I described a residency with writer friends at Weymouth Center in Southern Pines. Those winter days were punctuated with a perfect gentle snowfall and a morning fox hunt across the grounds. Those precious days, we agreed, were unforgettable, magical.
For the uninitiated, Weymouth is a sprawling mansion built by novelist James Boyd back in the 1920s with all kinds of creative nooks and crannies, creaks and bumps in the night. Surrounded by acres and acres of pine forest and gardens, it’s an oasis for creativity in genteel surroundings. North Carolina writers are allowed up to two weeks in residence per year. It’s a precious gift many of us have come to treasure.
The last weekend in September we returned to a writing retreat, not knowing that we were sharing the place with a wedding party. As we worked on projects, lovely garden wedding was being prepared outside our windows. A local couple had determined that this idyllic weekend in this gorgeous place would be theirs to tie the knot with the obligatory white tent, Pinterest-inspired decorations, vegetarian hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer, flowers, the works. All of us worked feverishly on our writing projects as the caterer cooked away in the kitchen below our quarters, groundspeople blew pine needles out of walkways, folding chairs were set up and aligned and a magnificent tent was appointed with linen-draped tables and lush bouquets.
And as the couple exchanged vows before an altar erected by the garden pool, we watched from the second floor. Like news correspondents in elevated booths we were there, but we weren’t there. We were the observers, watching a life event unfold as journalists and writers of all kinds do every day.
How does one write with so much commotion outside?
Magically. In fact I probably made more progress on some writing projects than I ever have at Weymouth. I drafted ideas for another book manuscript, drafted an essay about cliches and two stories inspired by conversations with the other writers. All of this in two and a half days.
Writing, like any creative pursuit, doesn’t wait for the “perfect” time or place. Writing can flow amongst chaos. This past weekend was proof.