Writing from the home and heart

For years, award-winning novelist and author Zelda Lockhart has been opening up her Hillsborough home to teach young women the craft of writing, including creation as a means to heal.

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Zelda Lockhart

HILLSBOROUGH — On three acres of land, award-winning author Zelda Lockhart has crafted her own refuge for creation, education, and inspiration. When entering her home, warm colors of deep orange and bright greens with large windows invite the senses. For many, simply letting go and letting the creative influence take hold proves the most difficult. This is something Lockhart has been working on with writers from the start of her workshops.”We usually start with a quote from [Dr. Clarissa Pinkola] Estés’ “Women Who Run With the Wolves.” Then we’ll have a discussion that will sink us into a deeper space, then they write for four hours. When the write-ins are happening, prompts are laying around the space. It’s to teach them how to be in a writing community but getting deeper and deeper with themselves…we just get quiet. It’s sort of a beautiful thing.”Lockhart’s first novel, “Fifth Born” (2003) was published with critical acclaim and received a nomination from the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Foundation for a debut novel. In 2008, her second novel “Cold Running Creek” (2006) won the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s Honor Book award for fiction. When it comes to writing, Lockhart said, “One of the hardest jobs is the courage to be vulnerable.”For the past 14 years unofficially, and four as a business, Lockhart has hosted a variety of writing workshops at her Hillsborough home which also serves as the headquarters for LaVenson Press Studios. Her workshops range from the women’s writing intensive, a five week workshop that meets once a week, to a nine month workshop where writers walk away with a completed piece of long-form work. There’s even a workshop on the art of self-publishing, an emerging trend among writers seeking to move away from traditional methods of publishing with agents and publishing houses. Lockhart stressed that her workshops don’t allow critiques, instead a safe space where any “blockage” writers carry prior to their work can be released through the art of creation.As a vegan, she also loves combining writing with food. Come spring and summer her small garden in the backyard is bursting with fresh herbs, berries, melons, kale, lettuce, and broccoli. She says, “Eat well so you can do well.”Aside from her busy schedule with workshops and writing, Lockhart is also currently pursuing her doctorate in art therapy from Lesley University. The prompts that Lockhart has been working on for twenty years lay the foundation for her forthcoming works, “The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript” and “Write it & Publish it.” Both focus on writing as a mode of transformation and healing within personal life. Lockhart notes, “The byproduct of the journey you go on is the piece of literature you have in the end…If what you’re leaving behind is a blueprint of how smart you are, what’s the point? If who you are isn’t in your work, people forget.”