Every now and then writers step away from their writing to think about . . . their writing. Though it may sound as though we’re utterly self-absorbed, actually these moments can be rather transcendental, glimpses into why we’re doing what we’re doing that might offer course-adjustments or reassurances. When we’re actually invited to perform these ruminations in print, we often learn useful things about ourselves, especially when we’re invited to do so in concert with other writers we admire.
W.C. Jameson decided to create an anthology of writers-on-writing, and invited fellow Colorado writers to participate. (Colorado is my other home, just as it is for W.C. and his wife Laurie Wagner Buyer, who live in Texas.) The result is a the newly-published book from Seven Oaks Publishing, aptly titled An Elevated View, since we all wrote from our various perches high in the Rocky Mountains. W.C. is a wildly impressive and successful writer, editor, and author, and, oh, he is also the well-known singer-songwriter. Yes, that W.C. Jameson. Just when you think one person couldn’t have done all this, there’s more. W.C. is constantly mentoring and helping his fellow artists. You get just a flavor of his gifts from the excellent introduction he wrote to this anthology.
I’m excited to keep company with Margaret Coel, whose essay “Anatomy of a Story” begins the book. Margaret, a Colorado native, writes superb mysteries of the Arapaho people and their relationship with the hundred-year-old Catholic mission set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The subtle elegance of her storytelling with its underpinnings of research and authenticity have made her a New York Times bestselling author. But as her essay makes clear, she’s also a mentor to those who would embark on the craft. Margaret is a friend, and we plan to do a joint event in Colorado next September, when both our new books will be released.
It’s a joy to appear in print with Laurie Wagner Buyer, whose essay became the book’s title “An Elevated View.” First I fell in love with Laurie’s poetry, of which she has written several collections. Then I was enthralled with her Side Canyons, in which she created her own prose-poetry-novel form. Most recently I’ve been thunderstuck by her memoire When I Came West, a tale too authentic not to believe, too harrowing ever to forget, too riveting to put down. Happily, Laurie has become not only a respected colleague, but a dear friend. She and I co-hosted Possibili-Teas in Colorado and New York, and we’ll do more events together in the future.
My own essay, “Writing My Way from Effect to Cause,” harkens back to my childhood in Tokyo, where I had the audacity to ask to write a column for the Mainichi Daily News. I got the job, and ultimately I did have a long, successful chapter of life as a journalist, writing for the Associated Press, the Financial Times of London, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. The colleagues I worked with, the skills and discipline I learned, are among the most valuable gifts I’ve received. Yet as I became increasingly aware, I was playing the role of observer, not creator. As inexorably as the waters leave the mountains to find the sea, I had to find my narrative voice in fiction, a journey briefly chronicled by this essay.
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