Writers can be renewed at Weathers Creek

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 4, 2012

SALISBURY — One thing writers love to do is talk about writing, knowing they will pick up something new every time.
That’s what it’s like at a workshop at The Farm at Weathers Creek. Published authors and editors give quick, one-day workshops for hungry writers — er, writers hungry for some inspiration.
And all involved will get a great lunch, too.
Susan Campbell and Ann Wicker started offering various writing workshops in 2008 at the Farm, after Campbell considered house concerts, because of the cozy location.
This is where Susan and Cindy Campbell live, so there’s no extra cost for the venue. Wicker, a former journalist, helps organize and present the workshops. Susan and Cindy are also publicists, working for regional bands and authors, such as Georgann Eubanks, who wrote, “Literary Trails of North Carolina Mountains.”
Since 2008, only two classes have been canceled.
This year, they’re skipping May because everyone is so busy and September because of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. But they plan one-day art ventures in June and July, then a workshop on publishing in August, picking up again in October and November, but not December.
The philosophy for the one-day workshops was inspired by the economy, Wicker says.
Many writing workshops are overnight or for consecutive days, but a lot of people don’t have the time for that, or the money, which would include a charge for a place to stay.
“We thought the one-day would be more of a draw, and it’s worked out very well,” Wicker said.
Weathers Creek classes have covered poetry, memoir, fiction, non-fiction, preparing a family cookbook (see http://www.salisburypost.com/Lifestyle/050212-writing-a-family-cookbook-qcd) and may stretch out to songwriting, which is just another form of poetry.
Debbie Moose, who led a class last month on “Cooking Up Your Family History: Making a Family Cookbook,” pointed out that the area has a lot of musicians and writers that might be available to lead a workshop.
“People will drive a distance, depending on the instructor,” Wicker said.
One woman came to Moose’s workshop from just outside Rock Hill, S.C. Moose came from Raleigh to teach.
“It’s such a pleasant space,” she said.
The farm is not hard to find from Salisbury — straight up U.S. 70, take a left at Freightliner, another left at Shinnville and another on the gravel Resource Drive, which takes participants to a place out of time, past farms and trees and fields.
The house sits on the edge of a huge, uncultivated field, with large windows in front to greet visitors.
Cindy Campbell explains as she pours coffee for an early bird that the house was salvaged from her grandmother’s old home.
She points out a picture on a wall, showing the big, clapboard house, unpainted, that was originally three miles away.
When the time came to move it, they took off the exterior and found a log cabin underneath, which they expanded a bit as they rebuilt it in the “same footprint of the big house,” Cindy said.
Cozy is the perfect description for it, with a front room containing a big leather couch, an assortment of soft armchairs and a few straight chairs with history.
On one side is the compact kitchen, set up for the lunch they will serve. For the morning, there are mugs ready for coffee, cups for iced tea or water and a warm coffeecake, still in its baking skillet.
In a space leading to another room the walls are mostly window, and there’s a couple of rustic tables for meals.
The next room is another cozy spot, with more stuffed chairs and a couch, and off that, a bathroom with clawfoot tub.
The upstairs is private.
A side porch, perfect for workshops in nice weather, includes a swing, a large garden table and an assortment of chairs.
The view is bucolic, trees and grass one way, fields another, birds, flowers. So much nicer than a windowless conference room in some hotel.
Perfect strangers are immediately friendly over the coffee and cake. Name tags are first name only, and people quickly start getting to know each other.
In the workshop led by Moose, the atmosphere was much like sitting around at a family gathering swapping stories.
The class was full, but there was still time to discuss formats, options, early attempts at putting together cookbooks. It was also a good time to hear family stories, which inspired the participants with ideas.
By the end of the day, the wine-and-cheese roundup had people talking about their next step, and one woman, Anita, showing some confidence in her own cooking efforts.
Dicy McCullough, who writes columns for the Salisbury Post and has published two children’s books, is a veteran of Weathers Creek workshop.
“I began taking workshops at Weathers Creek the fall of 2009. Each workshop is led by a published author, writer or expert in their chosen field. The workshops are not only productive, but relaxing at the same time. As a result of the workshops, I gained enough confidence in my writing to submit my first column to the Salisbury Post.”
If you’re dying to take a workshop, hold your horses just a little longer. May is too busy for all concerned.
“In June and July we will be hosting one-day creativity workshops in mosaic, bottle art, video storytelling and photography,” Susan Campbell says. Specifics of instructors and dates will be determined within the next couple of weeks and will be announced on their Facebook Page, on the website, www.weatherscreek.net and in an upcoming newsletter.
On Saturday, Aug. 11, Kim Wright will be at Weathers Creek for the Writers’ Series with “Getting Gritty: Publishing in the Real World.”
The class is described as fast-paced and hands-on and will focus on what writers need to know to get their books into the marketplace, including:
• How do you know when your book is ready to show?
• Building a network,
• Finding an agent,
• Selling the book to a publisher,
• Working with editors,
• Small versus large presses,
• Self-publishing — it’s not just for losers anymore!
• Changes in the publishing scene,
• Helping to promote and publicize your book.
Wright is the author of “Love in the Mid Air” (Grand Central) and “Your Path to Publication” (Press 53). Earlier this year, she self-published “City of Darkness,” the first in a historical mystery series. A native of Charlotte, she teaches at Queens University in the master of fine arts program.