Writing in the Hills

The incredulous question, “What’s in South Dakota…?”, which I heard regularly before I moved here, was always a difficult question to answer. You don’t just say: “My heart is there! What more reason do I need to move there?”

People just don’t talk like that.

But now I’m here, and I love it more than ever. And each day, week, month that goes by, I find new reasons to never want to leave. I find new reasons to be enthralled by this corner of the country, this state with a population one third the size of the largest city in the state I moved away from. The state I moved away from has a population of nearly 13 million. The state I moved to has a population of under 1 million.

It would be reasonable to assume that a state this small would have proportionately fewer opportunities – Creatively, artistically, socially. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I attended the inaugural Hill City Writers’ Workshop today, and am already hoping there will be another one next year. The fellowship hall of the Little White Church was full of eager writers, from ambitious amateur to seasoned professional, all excited to be around other people who all shared a passion for the written word. It was comforting to realize that I was one of three youngest people there – I don’t have to be in a hurry to write my life’s great work. I can wait and let my ideas ripen and grow bolder, better with age.

Although I opted out of the mentor sessions and missed out on the keynote because I only had one headlight and needed to get home before dark, I came away with inspiration and a fresh reminder that those of us in the writing world, no matter how big or small of scale we are working on, those of us in the writing world are all still learning. What a delightful realization!

This is a craft that is less dependent on native talent than it is on perseverance. This is a craft that is less dependent on native ability than it is on heart, passion, and sheer will power. The art and craft of writing requires really just a handful of simple, learnable things: observation, curiosity, and the will the follow through.

All I can say, this is a great corner of the world.

Laura Elizabeth

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