First things first. When you go to Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia (not if, but when) you might want to sign the door to the toilet, like this. Which is not the only reason visit Avid Bookshop, by any means. There are the books, which are delicious and highly hand-picked. And the booksellers, like Will and Frankie, and Janet, who owns the place. And Rachel, who books the special events. Last week we closed the doors and had a workshop right there in the front room, and wrote interesting things with lots of detail about setting a scene. And we talked about hybrid form, like if you put photos or poems into other text. And we ate tofu dip, which I would have taken home but we were out of forks.
Athens is only about ninety minutes from my house, but Oxford Mississippi is five hours and Greenwood is six, which means that I had to buy a new charger for my phone to keep it alive in my car, but the trip was way worth the fourteen dollars I spent at a Love’s travel stop for the charger thing. The generous and fun Neil White pretty much wound me up and pointed me in the right direction – toward the very full house! – at Off-Square Books, where I realized I’m all prepared to teach a workshop but had forgotten to pick what to just read. Neil vamped while I flipped through my book, and everyone was very kind and signed my guestbook and spent their money to buy my book. And then Neil and his wonderful wife D., and I did what people seem to do in Oxford, which is enjoy good food, good drink, and outstanding talk. And they gave me directions to Greenwood Mississippi.
I did bear right at the fork on Route 7, in case that comes up, and made very good time.
Which leads us to TurnRow Book Company in Greenwood. “Oh, what a gorgeous bookstore,” said eleventy-hundred people before I got there. When I got there, I said, “oh, what a gorgeous bookstore!” I have this problem in bookstores. I want to buy everything. TurnRow also has a cafe upstairs. I bought vegetable soup, home-made. (I also bought books and a t-shirt for M.) TurnRow also has a porch on the 2nd floor, and that’s where we held my mini-workshop. We talked about ghosts (not the Casper kind or the “have you seen the ghost of John” kind, but the character-motivation symbolic kind.) We also talked about obsessions, and how making connections between who we were “then” and who we are “now” generates plot in writing about grief and loss.
And Jamie, who runs the place, and I talked about fiction and draft. And Ben, who works there, and I talked about classical percussion and interesting instruments.
And then I went to hear some good music with two new friends from my workshop! This is serendipity.
And in the morning, in the rain, on the way out of town, I drove across not Billy Joe McAllister’s bridge, through the grand part of town, and out into the country, so that I could go here.