On an August Saturday between two and four, more than two hundred guests showed up at Otey Hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Franklin, Tennessee, to celebrate the release of a new Williamson County anthology.
“In celebration of our tenth birthday, CWW presents Gathering: Writers of Williamson County as our literary legacy, offering a showcase for the creative works of our members and Hall of Fame honorees — a blend of emerging and established authors. This volume is a gathering of writers, all 31 of them distilled into this one Place in time — those who are homefolks and those who came here with experiences of elsewhere, those who are published and those previously unpublished. ‘Above the slumbers’ of this once-tranquil, now teeming town, their voices rise and mount the hills and ‘ride astride the swells of dwindling pastureland.’ ”
“This volume is a gathering of words and lines that form fiction and creative nonfiction — 42 titles rich in qualities readers treasure in Southern literature: a sense of place and character; a love of the land; an appreciation of language, humor, and tradition.”
This book reflects the richness and depth of talent in Williamson County. It is my hope and desire for Gathering to become an ambassador for this Place we love and live in, and that the book will travel well outside the borders of our county and show and tell who we are.
“May Williamson County be proud to proclaim of our gathering: ‘These too are yet mine.’ ”
I will long remember how Otey Hall buzzed with excitement on a hot Saturday afternoon, as folks flowed in and through and lingered at author tables for signatures. I will remember the energy generated, the smiles and laughter, the support of loved ones and townsfolk, and the shiny cover of a new book that will long be with us!
Gathering. Buy it, give it, treasure it. It is mine, it is yours, it is ours.
I have a renewed appreciation for the life of a writer/editor. Of recent, it’s been life editing someone else’s stuff. My own writing has been put on the back burner for a brief season while I get this Book of the voices of Williamson County shaped into form: an anthology of the Council for the Written Word.
I was up this morning at 4:30 and buried my nose in the computer and didn’t look away until almost noon. I drank the obligatory pot of coffee like all writers and editors are supposed to do, and I even ate an unhealthy Apple Danish bakery roll…okay, fine, I ate two. I’m wearing the Franklin Jazz Festival T-shirt I slept in under a green Delta State sweatshirt, and I have white socks on that have brown bottoms because my floors are dirty. I have mascara flakes from the night pasted to my cheeks, and my hair is turning out on the ends and sticking up on top.
My furniture is dusty, the dog has tracked leaves in from the backyard, and the breakfast table is covered with yellow file folders: To Edit, Rejections, Problem Stories, Final Revisions. There is a publishing contract, an author’s contract, a Chicago Manual of Style, a calculator (not sure why), 20 colored pencils, Susie Sims Irvin’s book of poetry, cookie crumbs on the placemats, Robert Hicks’ story about a booksigning, and my mother’s discharge papers from the Army (not sure why).
All my energy and efforts have been pushed toward editing 45 stories of 33 writers, including our Williamson County Hall of Famers: Madison Smartt Bell, Robert Hicks, Paula Wall, Rick Warwick, Madison Jones, Susie Sims Irvin, Bill Peach, James Crutchfield, and Tom T. Hall.
I have worked cheek to cheek with my friend Currie Alexander Powers for the past two months, as the two of us have poured all our days into pulling all the details and straggling ends together in the creation of a BOOK. Now she has gone on a Blues Cruise and left it all with me.
Do I sound like I am complaining?
I am in my element. I am having a ball. I’m hungry, I need a shower, I need to brush and bathe the dog, I need to wash clothes and vacuum, but there’s nothing else in the world I’d rather be doing than what I’m doing. Making a book.