Louis L’Amour, the prolific Western writer, once said he could set up his typewriter in the middle of a freeway and still concentrate on his writing.
But could he set up his typewriter in the middle of a house containing two adults and five children (including a set of twins), do all the cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring demanded by that family, and still write his novels?
That was the challenge Marsha Ward faced 38 years ago when she started her novel, "The Man From Shenandoah." However, as the nest emptied, she found time to do the research necessary for a true Western story, as well as the time to write it.
The result is the first of a trilogy tracing the adventures of the Owen family as they left their home in the Shenandoah Valley to travel west. Ward was born in Phoenix and is, admittedly, a city girl. Why did she choose this time and genre for her novel?
"I’ve always been fascinated with history, especially that of the American West," she said. "In fact, I wondered a time or two if I was born in the wrong century. Then I use my computer, and I know I’m right where I should be to tell these tales."
The second book of the trilogy, "The Ride to Raton," is in the works. She has chosen to publish her books with a cutting-edge, ecologically friendly technology, Print-on-Demand, using an online provider.
Ward belongs to Western Writers of America and Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), both national professional writers’ organizations. Locally she belongs to American Night Writers’ Association and Superstition Mountain Scribes.
Almost every genre of writing has a group in the Valley, including romance and mystery writers. If you’re just beginning your writing career, joining a club and meeting other writers is a good way to get your motor running.
Some mobile home parks and senior apartments have writing clubs for residents only. The Mesa Senior Center Writers’ Guild welcomes new members, as does the Superstition Mountain Scribes.
Several Internet sites also specialize in promoting the works of new writers. One of them, RedPaper.com, carries shorter articles, poetry, recipes, etc. The material is posted and offered for sale. The other, Lulu.com, is directed mostly at the book market.
Taking creative writing classes at community colleges can help you polish your writing skills. But even just joining a group at your park or senior center will stimulate you and may be just the thing to get you started on a new hobby or new career.
For information about writing workshops and meetings at the downtown Mesa Senior Center, call (480) 962-5612.