The writers’ conference was in North Carolina, in the foothills of the Appalachians. My husband and I rented a car at the airport in Knoxville, Tennessee, and drove across the mountains. From place names to bends in the highway, the times of my childhood floated back to me.
My parents, my brother, and I spent summer vacations hiking these hills, exploring small mountain towns in our car, stopping to spend nights in motels on different sides of the Great Smokies. As a teenager, I attended youth conferences at the center where I now gathered with other writers.
Strange how the going and coming, from childhood to adulthood, finds its way into the series of stories I’m writing now, stories I submitted for critiques and class discussion at the conference. The feedback suggested a green light to continue.
The series follows a young man raised in Appalachia who leaves home, first for university, then for an appointment as a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. State Department. Throughout his adulthood he will fit pieces together from old and new. He discards, keeps, and adds as he matures. He creates a mosaic, as we all do, hopefully with increasing wisdom and discernment.