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Friday, 10 January 2014

Thinking About New Mexico

At the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, 2009

This is already turning into a busy year. Since I got back to work on Monday I’ve managed to crank out my thousand words a day on the new book; and that’s going to be the routine until I deliver, on 30 April. It’s always slightly daunting – occasionally terrifying – to look up at the mountain you’re about to attempt. A day like yesterday, when I got to 6 p.m., and found I had precisely 127 words to show for all my head-scratching, pacing up and down and displacement activity, can really rattle a guy. However, I have learned over the years to dig deep, squeeze out the words, and above all believe that it can be done, day after day after day until the 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 landmarks heave into view. At least with this project – the childhood of ex-copper Mike Pannett – I had a head start, the sample chapter I penned back at the beginning of last year. That means that, with luck and a following wind, I’ll pass the 10,000 marker on Monday

Meanwhile, looking ahead to more relaxed times, I have just mailed an application to the Helen Wurlitzer Foundation. This body offers three-month residencies for writers and artists in Taos, New Mexico. I lived in the Land of Enchantment for a full academic year (1986-87). I took on a full load of college classes, taught remedial English, gardened around campus and bought and operated a small window-cleaning round. I even sold my first piece of work, an article entitled ‘Through College with Ladder and Bucket’ which was published in the Times Higher Education Supplement and earned me £120 ($180). I have never recovered from the sense of wonder that New Mexico invoked. I’ve been back a couple of times and on each occasion a part of my mind prodded me with question, why did I came back to the UK? So, three months in Taos in the early part of 2015: it sounds enticing, the perfect way to start on a collection of short stories based on my travels in the western States over the past 35 years.

I suspect that I’m going to be posting on here a little less frequently this year. In February I’m attending a short course on ‘Establishing a Web Presence’, and I am sure I will be told that a blog should be focussed, confined to one main theme, and so on. If that is the case I will think about it. In any case, I have just reverted to writing a daily journal, something I began in 1994 but have neglected since I started blogging in March 2011.

Let’s see what happens… and consider some of the delights of New Mexico.

White Sands

At Fort Union, one of my favourite haunts

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