Directed to the doctor’s waiting room, I glance at a stack of magazines. The one on top shows a cover that looks familiar……
It is the February issue of New Mexico Magazine, the issue with my first published story. I pick it up, quickly flip through the pages to find “Turquoise Remembrance” which I haven’t read for six months.
My story—-sitting in a waiting room. Amazing. Where people I don’t know would be reading it.
After chatting with the doctor, I explain why it was fun to see the magazine in his office. He said his wife is a potter and often finds little faults with her art pieces that he doesn’t even notice.
I smile and reply, “Yes, I just reread my story while waiting and cringed at some awkward wording.”
Yes, I am a writer. I will always critique my work and want to make it better.
Winding through juniper-covered mountains as we drive to Santa Fe to attend a WORDHARVEST travel writing workshop, I am looking forward to meeting New Mexico travel writer, Lesley S. King, who will be our guide on this adventure. A year ago, after reading her article in New Mexico Magazine about the historic “Turquoise Trail” of mining lore, we drove along New Mexico Highway 14 through the Ortiz Mountains east of Albuquerque. A souvenir necklace I purchased along the way was the inspiration for “Turquoise Remembrance” which won the 2011 Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest and became my first publication.
Gathering at La Tienda in Eldorado on this azure-sky morning, it is good to meet Lesley and the other participants who will share this experience. While Lesley goes over our itinerary, a cool breeze floats through the open door. Sipping a cup of English Breakfast tea helps me to focus on this trek through the mountains of my writing desires. We will be finding our authentic paths, discovering our journey companions and deciding what gear to carry along. To begin, Lesley is telling us to write something….. a moment of panic! Which way to go? What am I doing here? I don’t know anything about writing! I don’t even know what to begin to write! But Lesley is a good leader and steps with me as I begin down this trail.
Where am I going? She helps me learn how to discover my goals. Writing is fun! And writing a blog is a way to be my own publisher, giving me freedom to write as I wish.
Who will be going with me? We explore the various social media–Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest–learning how to connect with others.
What do I need to bring along? Joy, appreciation, curiosity, enthusiasm.
The day has gone by quickly. It is time to say good-bye, so I leave with a map in hand, but it is still hard to decide which path to take. One blog or two? How much social media? Who is my audience? What is the purpose of my writing? Is my goal too lofty? Is this too hard and too much work? Do I have the time?
Driving home as the glowing sun sets in front of us, my husband and I are reviewing the day and what we have learned. We are surrounded by New Mexico’s lavender sky and purple hills, and I now realize which mountain trail I want to take. Not the one along the rocky summit and not the one through the swift creek. I want to take the meandering trail by the bubbling brook. I want to sit and chat with the others along the path as I snack on dried cherries. I want to draw in the fragrant wild roses and the vanilla-scented Ponderosa pines. I want to hear the melodies of finches and the chirping of a robin. Yes, I want the peaceful trail with the companionship of others who enjoy discovering the journey.
As Lesley says in her book, King Of the Road, “Within a single lifetime, most people live many incarnations. Career changes, family shifts and travel, all add to the journey’s richness.” So maybe another time, I will take the trail to the mountain crest or the path along the cascading stream. At this moment, I am adding to my journey through the mountains by joyfully writing what I love (my family, travel, romance, hiking, afternoon tea, food, cooking, history, historic hotels, faith, inspiration, trains, camping, reading) and with whom I love (my hero, best friend and husband of 41 years–Collin Stewart). And the sun is shining!
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you.” Isaiah 55:12
“Sherida Stewart of Farmington, New Mexico is the winner of the 2011 The Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest for her mystery “Turquoise Remembrance.” Stewart’s story was selected from among more than 100 entries and will be published in the February 2012 issue of New Mexico Magazine, co-sponsors of the contest. Stewart received a $1000 publication fee.”