|Lafayette Flats co-owner Shawn Means
and Writer-in-Residence Eric Shonkwiler
Editor’s Note: Eric Shonkwiler is the first-ever New River Gorge Winter Writer in Residence at Lafayette Flats. He will be spending the next three months as a guest of Lafayette Flats during which time he will be working on a new novel. His first novel, “Above All Men” was published in 2014 and has received high praise in literary circles. Eric will be contributing to the Lafayette Flats blog during his time in Fayetteville. This is his first installment:
I travel a lot—I’ve lived in five states in the last four years—and living the sort of life that I do, I’m used to living with relatively few (though cherished) luxuries. Time, decent gas mileage, good coffee and the occasional bourbon, are about all I look for. I’ve rolled into several towns looking at the same sort of time I’m going to spend here in Fayetteville, or even longer. Places that I should have, at least for a little while, thought of as home. But never, in all those places and towns, have I felt with any ease, that I was home. That is, until I came here.
It’s been just over a week, and I’ve already written forty pages of a novel. I’ve had some very delicious food at local eateries—and a fine dark porter from a Fayetteville brewery. I’ve had the chance to meet a few of the local faces at Cathedral Café, and I’m thankful for the welcome. But what’s harder to say, even though it’s my job, is that something about this town, and about Lafayette Flats, made me feel at home from the start. I haven’t had an off step here. I settled into my flat immediately—it’s hard not to. It’s a lovely place, and I have to thank Shawn and Amy for the chance to experience, not just the flat, and not just Fayetteville, but a moment of peace that I would not have otherwise had.
Here, in Fayetteville, I’m going to write a book, and I’m going to do it on my terms. I won’t have to worry about where my money is coming from, or where it’s going, for a little while. It’s that peace, coupled with the fact that I am somewhere different, somewhere new, that I think has led me to feel completely at home here. That’s me, too. I’m not at ease if I’m not a little stirred up. I’m looking forward to seeing more, doing more, and writing more. It’s been a heck of a long week, and this is just the start. I’ll have more to say about my time in Fayetteville as I experience it. In the meantime, I’ll be out among you (and holed up in my flat) writing and researching.