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Ashe County writer shares love of craft with others in the mountains
By Lisa O’Donnell Winston-Salem Journal Oct 11, 2017 (0)
Throughout her career, Chris Arvidson was the go-to person when someone needed something written well.
These days, Arvidson works at writing well for her own creative fulfillment.
A Michigan native who retired to West Jefferson with her husband several years ago, Arvidson is involved in several writing and literary projects in Ashe County while making sure she has plenty of time to devote to her own writing.
Her most recent project is an anthology of essays by baseball fans about their love of the game. She co-edited the collection, “The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans” with Diana Nelson Jones, a longtime reporter and columnist with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Arvidson contributed her own essay, “Nothing Else Like It,” about the Detroit Tigers magical run to the World Series title in 1984.
The publisher of the book, McFarland, also published an earlier anthology she edited, “Reflections on the New River.”
It turns out that McFarland publishes a lot of books about baseball, and Arvidson just happens to be a self-described “freak” about the sport.
A baseball-themed book seemed a natural.
“Diana and I came up with a list of everyone we knew who were freaks and have good stories,” she said. “It was easy to come up with 30 people.”
Besides writing, Arvidson also helped start Wordkeepers, which gives local writers around Ashe County a chance to read their work.
“People can read whatever they want for five minutes,” she said.
The writing salons have been held every other month for about 10 years, routinely drawing 20 to 30 writers.
Arvidson, whose house faces Mount Jefferson and overlooks West Jefferson, tries to write every day, and meets frequently with a small group of writers for support and critiques.
Q: How would you describe your art?
Answer: I like to write about people and topics that I, and others, feel passionate about. I hope my writing projects reflect this.
Q: How have you evolved as an artist?
Answer: I have had several wonderful writing teachers who have helped me stop being timid with my work. Now, at this point in my life, there’s isn’t much I’m afraid to say or write about — a great gift for a writer. I have also begun writing poetry in the last few years.
Q: Who has influenced your art?
Answer: My mentors at Goucher College, where I did my MFA, were fantastic. I continue to look to them and my colleagues in the program. In fact, many Goucher “Gophers” are represented in the baseball book. I have also had the opportunity to get to know some terrific writers through working on Ashe County’s On the Same Page Literary Festival. We are able to attract first-rate authors to a small intimate event, so I’ve been able to develop some wonderful writer friendships through the festival.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
Answer: Always, to keep moving forward. To stay on track. To put my butt in the seat and write!
Q: What does art do for you?
Answer: It’s the way I make sense of the world.
Q: Any advice for other artists?
Answer: As a writer, I’d say there’s no substitute for the good old “butt in seat.” And, don’t be afraid. I imagine this is really true for all kinds of creative endeavor. For writers in particular, I’d suggest finding yourself a support/writers group you can meet with regularly, and more importantly, be accountable to. It really helps in keeping your momentum.
Lisa O’Donnell writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in relish. Send your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-727-7420.
If you go
What: Ashe County writer Chris Arvidson will talk about "The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans" at Bookmarks, 634 W. Fourth St., 7 p.m., Oct. 25 as part of the Four on Fourth series, which will also feature Jennifer Bean Bower, Barbara Scott and Maura Way.