Writing and reading go hand-in-hand

Writers write. Right?

One would think so, but it’s surprising how many writers are inveterate procrastinators. Every bit of advice about writing boils down to putting one’s behind in a chair and banging away at your word processor, be it a computer or an old fashioned pencil.

  • Serious writers write
  • Traditionally published authors work as hard at getting an agent as they do at writing books
  • Serious writers write
  •  Indie and traditionally published authors learn how to promote their own books with confidence
  • Serious writers write
  • Author platforms are crucial
  • Serious writers write 
  • Authors read nearly as much as they write 
  •  Serious writers write

And don’t depend on family to edit your work, unless that is their profession and they are generally heartless when it comes to reviewing your article, or essay, or book. My ever-patient husband has been my biggest supporter and kindest critic (as in being no critic at all). He is not my editor. According to him everything I write is “fine.” Yikes. The worst word on the planet for a writer. “Fine.” A writer wants to be “thought provoking,” “hilarious,” “a thorn in someone’s backside,” “extraordinary,” any and all of the superlatives you can imagine. “Fine,” I didn’t think, quite cut it. And then I looked at synonyms for fine:

  • excellent
  • first-class
  • great
  • outstanding
  • quality
  • superior
  • prime
  • supreme
  • wonderful

So I guess I’ll take “fine” from my husband, who really, when I think about it, is a discerning and highly intelligent man. He’s still not my editor.

Over the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to writers of varying levels of success. These wonderful interactions have taught me a lot about what it means to be a writer.

Write tight. Whether you are writing an advertisement or penning the Great American Novel, less is more. Good writing is often a matter of making the most of a few well-chosen words.

Do your homework. (Research). Writers have an obligation to their readers to be credible. Works of fiction with shaky plots and weak characters turn readers off. Nonfiction books with incorrect information turn readers off. Period. End of story.

Write. To be successful, writers must write. It sounds simple, but making time to write is difficult if you are not intentional about putting words on paper (or computer), which is why most authors have a schedule and stick with it come what may.

Be interesting. Create a compelling story with strong characters, drama, conflict, action and a satisfying conclusion.

Be creative. There are many ways to write about the same subject. Love. Hate. Death. Life. Fear. Happiness. Truth. Lies. You name it and it has been written about, and that will continue. How does your creativity and innovation bring new life to these concepts? That’s the story you want to tell.

Read. Yes. Read. Read a lot. Read different genres. Read nonfiction, poetry, history, fiction. Read. Read. Read. As famed author Stephen King said, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

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Next up: In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), the September 18 Las Vegas Literary Salon will feature two of the writers who will be published in Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poems. Ray John de Aragon and Sylvia Ramos Cruz will talk about their work, the craft of writing and their writing journeys. Read more here and register to attend. The event begins a 2 p.m. on Zoom.

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NOTE: If you are interested in being on the Las Vegas Literary Salon planning team, contact lvliterarysalon@gmail.com. We’re also interested in guest posts from writers about their writing journeys, the craft of writing, book reviews in any genre, posts about reading. If you have a guest post idea, let us know.

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Coming in October: Las Vegas Poet Laureate Kayt Peck will be our featured author at an event full of surprises, which may include hot cider and spooky treats! Hopefully by then in person gatherings will be possible. Stay tuned. Either way, Kayt will be talking writing and poetry and publishing.

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November launch of Tapestry! Details to come.

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE LAS VEGAS?

When someone who has never been here asks you about our community, what do you say? I tend to talk about the live music that bursts out seemingly at random, especially in the summer. One Friday night pre-covid, my husband and I walked by the Plaza Park and heard guitars, a keyboard, trumpet, and drums. We paused for a few minutes of dancing, and then walked down Bridge Street, where a small band played in the breezeway, part of an opening at Gallery 140. Across the street at Borracho’s, we heard another band playing. And when we walked across the bridge and another block up the hill to Burris Hall, a guitar player sang and played softly at another gallery opening.

Or maybe you talk about the architecture, and the fact that we have over 900 houses and other buildings on the National Historic Register. Amazing. And talk about the architecture naturally leads to discussion of the history of the area. And that might lead to mention of the Fiesta in early July, when vendors circle the park and flow down both sides of Bridge Street, while in the park itself, families sit and talk to friends they only see at Fiesta, when everyone comes in from the ranches and they catch up on everyone’s news, and they watch flamenco dancers perform and listen to live music for days.

And that’s another thing, we have so many local artists who show their work not only at the galleries, but at Borracho’s, Travelers, and The Skillet (owned and run by two artists who have MFAs in sculpture and painting – I think all of the art in there is their own.)

If you are talking to someone who has a motorcycle, they might have questions about the motorcycle rally in late July, when hundreds of bikers, many headed for Sturgis, stop for a couple of days in Las Vegas for bike-related events or just to see old friends.

That’s another wonderful thing about our town. People are genuinely friendly, and will stop and pass the time of day. I once talked to a man in a gallery who told me he was in a hurry, and just needed to turn in a form, then proceeded to spend another 45 minutes talking to me and to everyone else who came through the door. He looked far more relaxed when he left.

There is a dark side. Every community in every state confronts problems. Maybe that’s where your mind goes.

But whatever you say, or think, how about expressing yourself in the pages of Tapestry, the Las Vegas Literary Salon’s upcoming offering of writings from present and former residents of northeastern New Mexico. From one of the other small villages or towns or ranches in the area? That’s great. We want to hear about your home, too. Have a great story about what happened when someone crashed Christmas dinner? Tell it as a short story. And don’t worry, as long as you change the name, people never recognize themselves in fiction.

The Literary Salon is now accepting submissions of short stories, essays, and poetry for Tapestry. Check the guidelines on this website.