I am a published writer!
I am a WRITER!!! As of the February 2012 issue of New Mexico Magazine, I am a PUBLISHED writer! Thanks to Wordharvest for their Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story contest, to New Mexico Magazine for choosing “Turquoise Remembrance” and to my family for their encouragement.
This afternoon while I sip English Breakfast tea from a cup made by my daughter-in-law, I reflect on the experience of my first publication. Last summer, I entered the contest as a way to prove to myself that I was serious about writing–after many years of “thinking” about being a writer. After a combination of experiences–buying a turquoise necklace in Cerrillos, New Mexico, glimpsing a fascinating old trackside hotel as we traveled on Amtrak, then reading about a mystery writing contest—a story started to emerge in my mind. I crafted “Turquoise Remembrance” over a couple of months. When I didn’t know what to write, I found if I just sat at the computer and started putting words down, then more thoughts would flow. I made trips to the library to research the Castaneda Hotel and the Harvey Girls. When I had trouble with how to make an idea work, I found that a solution would seem to appear as I was day dreaming. Suggestions from Wordharvest’s newsletter provided the ideas to edit what I had written to make a more compelling mystery. I kept reading and rewriting, changing words or rearranging scenes, until I was afraid I would never get my story sent to the contest by the August 15 deadline. Finally I printed out the last reiteration and summitted it to Wordharvest, including a postcard to be notified that my entry had been received. The postcard was mailed back, with “Good luck!” written on it…my proof that I had indeed entered the contest.
A month and a half later, I had a message on my answering machine from Anne Hillerman. I wondered…could I possibly have WON the contest?!? I could hardly breathe when I called her back, and she told me that my story was selected as the winner of the Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story contest! The announcement would be made at Wordharvest’s Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in Santa Fe, so we made plans to attend the conference in November.
The conference was located at the charming Hotel Santa Fe. I felt completely in awe of being among so many writers, and I definitely felt out of place since I am a quiet person. The speakers were all very informative and entertaining. I found the attendees fascinating with their diversity of interesting backgrounds and works in progress.
During the conference farewell banquet, (a wonderful southwest style dinner which I was too nervous to savor), I was called to the podium to acknowledge that my story had won the short story contest and would be published in New Mexico Magazine’s February 2012 issue. And a public speaker, I am not, so with gracious thanks, I accepted a framed certificate, and hurried back to my seat. But it was a thrilling moment! I wish I could have told the audience that during the process of writing my story, I gained greater respect for writers—it is hard work to be a writer. There is a great deal of research to do, just finding time to write is a challenge, and there is the fear of knowing other people will read your work! But at the same time, there is the exhilaration of knowing other people will read your work!
So my story is published, and some will enjoy it and some will find fault with it, but I LOVED reading MY STORY in a beautifully illustrated magazine, seeing the February issue on the local bookstore’s newsstand and hearing from my family that they appreciated the little personal notes I had tucked into the story. Yes, I am a writer! And I pray that I will continue to craft words that touch other people, because that is what a writer does.
“With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26