Have you missed me? I just returned from my fifth residency at The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, and I feel compelled to give my testimony. Dairy Hollow is the place I write best. Edits are accomplished. Ideas appear. Words flow straight out of my brain and onto my Mac while my fingers move as though I’m playing a song on the piano. (Chopsticks, to be specific, and we writers are all about specific.) After five visits, I realize there are (at least) five reasons for this productivity. And the reasons work together, a sum-of-the-parts sort of thing, if you know what I mean.
Know what I mean?
1. Setting. Dairy Hollow’s sole purpose is for creating. As a writer or artist or chef or architect or musician or photographer or WhoAmILeavingOut?, you will have nothing to do other than write. No kids, no spouse, no dogs, no chores, no job, no television. Each room includes a bedroom, private bath, and writing space. Some have mini-kitchens. All have wi-fi, coffee pots and wooded views. What more, pray tell, could one possibly need?
Located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Dairy Hollow is nestled in the Ozark Mountains at the end of Spring Street. And yes, there’s a hollow just below the bend in the road. (Or a ‘holler’, if you’re an Arkansawyer.) Eureka Springs is unique and quirky, a town of twisty roads, steep stairs, and an estimated fifty-six miles of stone walls, most constructed by stonemasons between 1885 and 1910. Take a writing break and go for a hike. Explore. There’s so much to see. Every crack and crevice sprouts a seed. No matter the season, something will be blooming. You may get lost in the woods, but when you find yourself, you will be inspired.
2. Synergy. There’s a quiet energy at Dairy Hollow, a palpable, impossible-to-duplicate-at-home energy. Simply being around other writers helps me write. It’s that simple.
3. Schedule. There is no schedule (other than 6 pm supper). That’s the beauty of Dairy Hollow.
4. Food. At the end of a full writer-y day, residents gather in the communal dining room to enjoy a fantastic dinner prepared by Chef Jana (pronounced Yanna). Meals are creative, delicious, and plentiful. (They lean on the vegetarian/healthy side, although on my last night, she served us OMG fried chicken.) For breakfast and lunch, writers in residence have 24-hour access to the well-stocked kitchen (plus all those yummy leftovers). A writer could easily hole up and survive quite well at Dairy Hollow without ever stepping foot in a grocery store or restaurant. Amen to that.
5. Connections. During my past five stays, I have met interesting, accomplished people from across the U.S. and Canada. People from all walks of life. Many have become personal friends. All have touched me in some way.
Dairy Hollow should come with a warning. At some point when you must pack your bags and head home, severe withdrawals will set in. The greatest shock comes at that first stomach grumble and you realize if you want to eat again, you must cook supper or order pizza or fetch takeout for yourself. That’s a major bummer especially when you know back in the woods of Dairy Hollow, Chef Jana is whipping up another fabulous meal for a new lucky group of residents.
To apply for residency or for more information, visit Dairy Hollow at www.writerscolony.org.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
It is spring in the Ozark Mountains. The yellow flowers are blooming and the birds wake me at dawn and last night five planets lined up by the moon in the western sky. If that doesn’t inspire me to poetry what will?
― Ellen Gilchrist
The Dixie Bee Liners, Down on the Crooked Road