Editor’s Note: Mary Ann Henry is the 2016 New River Gorge Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette Flats. Mary Ann is originally from West Virginia, but has spent the past 26 years in Charleston, South Carolina. She arrived in Fayetteville on New Year’s Day and she will be a guest of Lafayette Flats through the end of March. During her stay, Mary Ann plans to rewrite a novel that is set in West Virginia. Her last book, published in 2014, is a collection of stories called Ladies in Low Places. This is her first contribution to the Lafayette Flats blog.
When some West Virginia artist friends first suggested applying for the Winter Writer’s Residency at Lafayette Flats in Fayetteville, West Virginia, my reaction was: why would I re-visit West Virginia in the winter when the first chance I had, I high-tailed it out of the frozen tundra of my home state in winter to my cozy beach cottage in Folly Beach, South Carolina?
But, then, I recalled one of my favorite writer’s quotes: ‘Peculiar Travel Suggestions are Dancing Lessons from God.’ (Kurt Vonnegut) That quote stayed with me, haunted me even. And when I returned from a back-packing trip to Ireland, I sent in my application. The result? Amy McLaughlin and Shawn Means, owners of The Flats, turned out to be my ‘literary angels’.
It’s only been a few days but the apartment/flat is comfortable and lends itself to a writer’s need to “nest”. Within walking distance are shops and restaurants and, a big bonus: a yoga studio a 90 second stroll from my front door. And beyond the town itself,with its charm and its interesting characters, lies the great New River Gorge. The drama of nature waiting to be discovered. Or ignored if I want to “hole up”and hide from the world and write. Which is what I plan to do. But it’s nice to have options in deciding just what kind of dancing lessons I want to take. — Mary Ann