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Writers Write



I’m a writer. There, I’ve said it in a public forum. I’ve always been good at the writing process and even used the skills I learned in public school successfully in thirty-plus years in Corporate America and later while earning a Masters Degree. But it wasn’t until I started writing a novel that I began to see myself as a Writer.

Earlier this year, at the Tucson Festival of Books, I attended one of the many panel discussions at which three authors discussed a writing-related topic. When the session ended, I hurried to the book-purchase/author-signing table, hoping for a chance to hear an unplanned gem of wisdom from one the panelists.

While the three speakers were getting settled, one of them asked me what I was working on. (Did I look like a Writer to her?) I mumbled something like “For a few years I’ve been thinking about writing a story about…” That’s when she interrupted me and said, “Stop thinking and start writing.” I remember walking away from the table embarrassed, seeing myself as a planner and not a doer. But I also felt the challenge at a new level. A few days later, home from the Festival and ready to get back to teaching history after Spring Break, I started writing my “planned” novel.

I knew where I wanted to go with the story, but I also knew that I needed to let the story happen. This was so contrary to my usual process of read, research, take notes, plan, outline, cite, write, review, edit, revise, etc. At the university, whether teaching or taking classes, I always worked under deadlines and with specific word count targets. I decided to set myself new rules—Write every day and let the story set its own course, and write without a specific due date and, especially, without a specific word count target.

In the six months I’ve kept at this process, I’ve learned two enlightening and refreshing things:
1. Writing something every day, whether it’s a dozen words or a dozen paragraphs without a deadline, yields a new kind of freedom.
2. Writing (the real thing…you know what I mean) is like breathing, and every day’s output is like another breath in a long, long process.

I’m not concerned about whether or not my book gets published. I am, however, committed to writing my story until it’s finished. What happens after that hasn’t yet been written.

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.