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Fear-Facing 101

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For the past ten months I’ve been writing every day; well, except for those few lost to holiday travel and the occasional ones when my writing consisted of twelve heavily labored-over words which ended up on my computer screen in no particular order.

But it has been ten months, and in that time I’ve followed the story living in my head and squeezed out nearly a hundred twenty thousand words into my jump drive. Some of the folks who are following my progress suggest that I’ve written enough for two novels. Then I tell them that War and Peace has over eight hundred thousand words, and that shuts them up for awhile.

But now that I’m in the midst of writing the penultimate chapter of the story, I feel like I’m standing on a precipice, looking into a canyon much deeper and scarier than the famous one in Northern Arizona. I thought my feet were planted on firm ground—writing every day, meeting with my writing group, listening to my muse—but lately I’ve felt pieces of that ground crumbling away like caliche and rattling down the cliff toward the unseen bottom.

I’ve decided to bare my soul and admit my fears hoping that the equivalent of a New Mexico Mountain St. Bernard is out there with a jug of experience hanging under his neck. Perhaps a sip of that experience will rescue me from my dangerous situation.

Anyway, here they are:

Fear Number One: I just don’t want to end the story. I’ve thought about it for years, been writing it down daily for nearly another year, and now I feel like I’ve deliberately slowed the pace of my writing just so I won’t have to end the telling of it.

Fear Number Two: I’m afraid I’m ending the story too soon. The tale is a long one, and a good one, and it feels like I’m creating a door-slamming truncation to what started out as a great story; almost like I’m telling the reader “I’m done writing this” or “let’s just get this over.”

Maybe every writer has experienced this sort of thing, and I’m just not smart enough to step back from the edge of the cliff. Maybe I should just face the fears head-on and write the ending; then leave it to my editor to tell me what to do.

Or, better yet, maybe I should just wait for the rescue dog to bring his life-saving elixir and tell me everything will be all right.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Southwest Word Fiesta™ or its steering committee.

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We respectfully acknowledge that the entirety of southwestern New Mexico is the traditional territory, since time immemorial, of the Chis-Nde, also known as the people of the Chiricahua Apache Nation. The Chiricahua Apache Nation is recognized as a sovereign Native Nation by the United States in the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Friendship of 1 July 1852 (10 Stat. 979) (Treaty of Santa Fe ratified 23 March 1853 and proclaimed by President Franklin Pierce 25 March 1853).

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Mimbres Press of Western New Mexico University is a traditional academic press that welcomes agented and unagented submissions in the following genres: literary fiction, creative non-fiction, essays, memoir, poetry, children’s books, historical fiction, and academic books. We are particularly interested in academic work and commercial work with a strong social message, including but not limited to works of history, reportage, biography, anthropology, culture, human rights, and the natural world. We will also consider selective works of national and global significance.