Before I ever started articles and books about aviation, I sought out an organization who could offer advice and information on what it takes to be a successful author. I found SouthWest Writers (SWW) located in my home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico. SWW is a non-profit group comprised of over 350 authors, more than half of which have been published. Their focus is to support both published and novice authors in their efforts to improve their craft and further their careers.
At the first meeting attended in 2004, I met Jack Hickman, (Photo at right) the editor for EAA Chapter 179’s newsletter. Jack asked me to write an article for their newsletter on any topic relating to air traffic or aviation weather. This informative piece entitled “Painless Pilot Briefing” was picked up within 2 days by three other EAA chapters, and within a week I got a call from the editor of my first national magazine.
I have been active with SWW since that time, serving on the board of directors for several years. Elected President in January of 2019 my term will carry through 2021. By doing so I hope to give back to a great group of people who support each other’s dreams of becoming published authors.
What a strange time to be leading a non-profit arts organization! We’ve made the leap from in person gatherings to zoom, we’ve come up with challenges to keep 300 members focused. It is our belief that if every one of us cannot come up with a minimum of one good story – sad, angry, hopeful, and full of personal insights, well…we should just toss the feather pen out the window.
It is not the mundane daily tasks and experiences that make good stories. Who writes long, focused pieces about washing dishes, making the bed, or scrubbing floors? This pandemic is as painful, hateful, and as life changing as any war…and unlike the military versions, it is truly a World Wide conflict. This event is changing lives and, for all the pain it causes, there is also a great deal of beauty and there are a mil-lion stories. I’ve seen on Facebook and heard from friends about re connections with family—many decorated their homes early for the holidays to bring some color and light to sheltering in place.
There are tales about people now working from home who are trading commute time for project time like cleaning out the garage, making cookies, or donating time to deliver meals to the elderly. I’ve taken to doing more letter writing—especially to older family members and friends who are not comfortable with email or computers in general. I’ve also made a conscientious effort to patronize family-run restaurants and small stores that need more consideration than the big chains during this time. These are small things that take just a little time but which mean so much to people. This pandemic will continue to affect our lives for a significant portion of 2021. SWW is doing its best to keep us connected and inspired.
SWW hosts two meetings a month, each with a speaker who has attained some acclaim in their field. Topics range the full gamut of writing as both a craft and as a business. If any of you reading this have wanted to explore your literary potential, you might check them out! www.southwestwriters.com