The Writing Magic of Santa Fe

What is it about Santa Fe? I go there, I get story ideas. I go there with bad story ideas, I get better ones. It’s almost miraculous. I don’t even have to hike out into the desert or meditate or anything. Although that is fun, too.

Hi, friends! I’ve been gone on the world’s most awesome road trip with my family. We drove in my super-sexy minivan from Austin to Palo Duro Canyon, Santa Fe, Taos, Pagosa Springs, and Silverton… where we rode the train and got mooned by 6 people.

Seriously, Silverton/Durango people. Who moons? (Hmm. Good question. Note to self: Possible picture book title. Who Moons?).

Oh, look, a train! Oh, look a gorgeous countryside! Oh, look, hairy butts!

Oh, look, a train! Oh, look a gorgeous countryside! Oh, look, hairy butts!

Anyway… then we went to Mesa Verde National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest National Park, White Sands, and ended in Fort Davis, Texas.

We did these things on the trip:

White-water rafted

Whitewater kayaked

Rode a coal-powered steam train down a mountain

Free climbed ENORMOUS boulders (well, okay, not enormous)

Went caving

Soaked in about 20 natural hot springs

Climbed into a ton of Ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings

Saw Californian condos, elk, wild turkeys, peregrine falcons, golden eagles, hummingbirds by the dozen, mule deer, tarantulas, and so many other things…

Also, did I mention the moonings? My kids will NEVER forget that part.

So. Much. Fun.

But the weirdest part was the revelation in a restaurant in Santa Fe, when I was sitting with my husband, moaning about how my current novel just wasn’t clicking. Over corn chipotle soup and fajitas, it suddenly became perfectly clear to me what was missing. (Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to leave my work on home when on vacation. It just doesn’t work that way for writers. I mean, I guess I could leave my brain at home in a jar or something. Note to self: Write a character who has a brain collection.)

Now, if this had been the first time I’d had a revelation in Santa Fe about a book, I’d think it was a coincidence. But it keeps happening to me, my whole life! I go to New Mexico, I think about writing, I get inspired.

If anyone can explain this, I’ll buy you a sopapilla. Of course, you’ll have to meet me in Santa Fe in August to eat it – I’m going back. This time, I’m going solo, to the amazing AROHO Women’s Writing retreat at Ghost Ranch.

I think, after a week of writing in the desert right outside Santa Fe, I’m going to have a good draft to start tinkering with.

Or who knows? Maybe I’ll get some more story ideas. It is sort of the place for that, for me anyhow.
So, where’s your place, Writer Friends? New York? Sedona? Your back yard? The shower?

I’ll see you in two weeks!

The Grand Canyon, which was just grand.

The Grand Canyon, which was just grand.

Posted in Children's Fiction, Family News, Miscellaneous on 07/29/2013 03:38 pm


  1. Oh isn’t the Grand Canyon amazing. We took the grand girl last year. She was one. I don’t think we’ll take her again until she is older than 6. Too many places to fall off.


  2. I would love to see the Grand Canyon some day, it looks so amazing. And I can’t believe you were mooned that many times. Crazy! I haven’t been mooned a single time in my entire life(thank God!). =)


  3. I can tell you why you get fabulous story ideas in New Mexico! Because, after living here for 25 years, there truly IS something magical and enchanted about this land and this state. I was writing ho-hum stuff for years and then, when we moved down to our dirt road along the Rio Grande and I started walking in the bosque I got the best ideas. And suddenly I was writing books set here and published three novels (about 12 years ago) about the ancient stories and spirit of this land. My best being THE LAST SNAKE RUNNER that takes place at Acoma (time travel about the last members of the snake clan when the conquistadors came through and wiped them out with a tragic love story). You *have* been to Acoma, haven’t you?! My favorite place in NM. Better than Taos Pueblo.

    Mesa Verde is spectacular, isn’t it? My jaw dropped when we first went there. As well as Carlsbad caverns, walking through that monstrous entrance into the caves.

    So you got any time for a meet-up while you’re here? 🙂


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