Letter from the Director, April 2021

Believing in the Magic

As I watch April unfold in lovely shades of green, I feel hopeful and content. I’ve busted my “you know what” to start Rockvale Writers’ Colony. For me, it’s always been a heart-dream, a soul-cause, a gift to the universe of creativity from me. To be honest, I didn’t always know what I was doing. I learned as I went. I stepped onto the next stone in the path and kept going, sometimes in awe, a lot of times in tears.

2020 was the second full year of existence for the colony. The utter devastation of that year nearly crushed us. We were going down, but in that torment, I built trails, I made “Believe” benches, I transplanted blackberries, and I wrote every dream I had for the future of this place on a whiteboard in my office. I don’t know how we’re still here, but we are. I think the land had something to do with it. Way back in the deep sacred spaces among the trees, I poured out my fears and listened to the wisdom of the ancient oaks. Sometimes I cried and sometimes I cursed all the broken parts of circumstance and timing and the miserable pandemic. And then I’d get up and keep going. 

I applied for a SERG grant (Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant) from the state of Tennessee. I spent over a hundred hours (maybe 200!) applying for this grant, uploading documents, researching, reading about accounting and taxes, gathering “proof” for every “loss.” I had many email conversations with the SERG grant program coordinator. I messed up a few times, fixed my mistakes, as I worked through the very complicated system. It was frustrating and tiring and I pulled my hair out a lot. But I kept going. 

Last month, I got a check in the mail. It’s not a huge amount but it will make a difference. In all the struggle and loss of the past year, today feels bright. Finally, joy. 

I’m grateful for the SERG program. I’m thankful to the writers who dared to believe in this place with me and to several who listened to my woes of the past year with tender hearts. I still believe that it is in creativity that we find ourselves, that our words matter and have power, that “believing” is the most important part of the journey to do anything. I’ve held on to that word tightly for a long time now, even when it was so heavy I wanted to throw it down. Believe. Now it comes back to me with wonder.

So, come on writers! Rockvale Writers’ Colony is open and taking applications for residencies through the rest of the year. I’m eager to share the magic of this place with you. We’ve got a lot of writing left to do!