Okay, y’all – considering it’s been over a month since my Asheville writing retreat ended, I figured I better write about it, or I might never get to it.
It was super long, so I’ll divide it up into three posts for your bite-size reading pleasure. 😛
I have thought, more than a dozen times, that if Asheville was located on the coast, instead of in the mountains, it would be the perfect city for me to live in.
This definitely factored into my decision about where I would go write and try to finish this manuscript.
Maybe I’ve visited it one too many times at Christmas – to see the Biltmore House all lit up and sparkly, but to me, it feels like a Southern fairy tale world, like in a Sarah Addison Allen novel: old Victorian-era homes, small beautiful shops, an addiction to bookstores, and hill-like green mountains where small magics can happen, It’s where living means pursuing passions and savoring happinesses. Bumper stickers proclaimed, Follow your bliss! and Don’t postpone joy!
So, it’s a happy place – happy in an artistic way, a mecca for creatives – full of coffee/teahouses, and vintage shops, and record places, and fun quirky restaurants, and art galleries, and stationary stores, and BOOKSTORES.
I admit: the first and the last on this list were the ones I visited the most often.
I arrived at the end of August. I found a routine by the beginning of September:
-Wake at an hour that’s not too ridiculous (ie. hopefully closer to 9AM than to 12PM)
-Head to Greenlife, the grocery store down the street, a.k.a. the breakfast land of delicious scones and cheap coffee.
-Write through two cups of coffee.
-Walk up the hill to the Downtown Asheville library, the next chapter’s playlist pounding through my headphones.
-Write until my finger hurts or my mind goes numb.
-Stop for lunch: at Bouchon’s, a creperie tucked away in a courtyard off of Lexington Avenue. Or at Doc Chey’s, a noodlehouse a few blocks away. Or Salsa’s, if I was in the mood for something heavier. Or Malaprop’s cafe, if all I wanted was a smoothie.
-Back to the library to write some more. The key at this point was WRITE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
-Head back, and maybe, depending on how much I had written and how much I felt like rewarding myself, stop for BOOKS.
It was almost impossible to NOT stop for books, by the way. Temptation #1: The library was having a half off book sale during the month of September, ie. basically the WHOLE TIME I WAS THERE. Temptation #2: Malaprops, Indie Bookstore of Indie Bookstores – literally less than a block away. Temptation #3: Downtown Books, the epicly well-stocked used bookstore on Lexington.
-OR I could stop at French Broad Chocolate Lounge and have cake before supper.
That is not an exaggeration.
(credit for photo goes here)
-OR head to the Dripolator for some delicious beverage to squeeze out a couple more pages and/or unwind.
-Dinner (sometimes at Greenlife, or sometimes leftovers)
-Reading of the recently acquired books, usually into the wee hours of the morning, which should account for why my wake-up times became more and more like a college student.
YOU GUYS, DOESN’T THIS SOUND IDYLLIC???
Because it WAS.
And then, like a switch had been flipped, something changed…