You should see the town I’m writing from. Main Street starts with a set of railroad tracks running alongside Drexel Heritage Furniture Plant Number One, an enormous cinderblock structure, empty now, with kudzu climbing up the old loading bays. Beyond the factory, there is a lump of storefronts: the barbershop where they hold Saturday morning pickin’ sessions, a home-healthcare supplies office, a used bookstore, and a pizza restaurant. Up the hill, there’s the post office, and across from that, the First Baptist Church of Drexel, easily the town’s largest building. On down, there’s a Pentecostal Hispanic Church housed in a converted bank, an elementary school, a crisis pregnancy center, a coin laundry, and a row of tidy and not-so-tidy houses. Mine, the last in the line, is a dingy-colored stucco with a gravel driveway and an ancient holly tree, so large and unwieldy, it almost completely obscures the view of my house from the street.
Me, I’m inside, nurturing an instinct that is one of my life’s most enigmatic, glorious blessings, both terrifying and illuminating, cruel and extraordinary. I have learned, in these ten-odd years of trying, a handful of truths when it comes to this singular pursuit: writing, for me, requires this tiny space inside this tiny town. It’s the ideal isolation. I didn’t grow up here, but instead drifted here as an adult through a turn of events I’m not sure I could trace even if I wanted to. I have a writerly faith about these sorts of things, though, about how the creative life pulls itself together. For reasons I don’t completely understand, I belong here, hidden behind that prickly holly tree.
I'd love to hear from you: Where do you belong? What does your art demand: people and activity and culture or unflinching solitude? Do you have a place to go hide out and write? Or, do you find yourself yearning to break free of your solitude, to quit hiding behind a tree?