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Write, because you need to

This year's SOMOS Prose Month offers a chance to earn your writing chops

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/1/18

The Society of the Muse of the Southwest (SOMOS) commemorates prose writing in November with workshops, readings and a party. According to the organization's website, the writing …

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Books

Write, because you need to

This year's SOMOS Prose Month offers a chance to earn your writing chops

Posted

The Society of the Muse of the Southwest (SOMOS) commemorates prose writing in November with workshops, readings and a party.

According to the organization's website, the writing genres in the mix include fiction, memoir, journalism and plays. These activities coincide with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and other events are planned throughout the month to inspire readers and writers alike.

The opening weekend, Friday through Sunday (Nov. 2-4), begins with two readings, a write-in, a workshop and a party. It all happens at SOMOS Headquarters, 108B Civic Plaza Drive and some events cost money, readings are $8, $5 for SOMOS members.

Tempo interviewed the event curator, local Taos author Johanna DeBiase, for the details. Here are the highlights.

Tempo: What is your background and relationship with SOMOS?

Johanna DeBiase: I am an author and the curator for Prose Month.

Tempo: How does this year's event differ from last year's?

DeBiase: This year we continued to grow the event by adding more diverse writers, including playwrights, journalists, travel writers and bilingual writers. We also brought up three authors from Santa Fe.

More emphasis was put on the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) aspect of the month as well by adding a NaNoWriMo Kick-off Party, a novel-writing workshop and four write-ins. This is my fourth year taking part in NaNoWriMo, and I'm very committed to it. I love the event and think that all prose writers should try it at least once to see if it is for them. It's like if you were a runner and wanted to up your game, you might train for a marathon. NaNoWriMo is a marathon for writers.

Tempo: What was your curatorial process for this year's Prose Month?

DeBiase: I reached out to writers that were suggested via word-of-mouth for their outstanding writing. I also contacted a couple of writing groups to see if they would be interested in presenting together. The result was a diverse group of talent.

Tempo: What are some highlights of this year's event?

DeBiase: I am excited about the authors we are bringing up from Santa Fe because I believe it is their first time presenting in Taos. This upcoming weekend, mother and daughter, Jill Scott Momaday and Natachee Momaday Gray, are the daughter and granddaughter, respectively ,of N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer-prize winning Kiowa novelist, and one of my favorite writers.

They have inherited his talent for language, and I am looking forward to hearing them read. Also, later in the month, New York Times journalist Michael Benanav will present a slide-show from his book "Himalaya Bound." I saw his presentation in Santa Fe to a packed house, seriously wall-to-wall, and it was incredible. Michael traveled with a family of nomadic buffalo herders on their annual migration to the Himalayas. His photos and his story are amazing. He'll also be answering questions, too. It's a must-see.

Tempo: Why should people join a group considering the exercise of writing is done (normally) in solitude?

DeBiase: Writing is done so much in solitude it's great for writers to reach out to each other from time to time. It's like a turtle coming out of its shell after a long nap and realizing there is an entire world out there.

There is a large literary community in Taos, and it's important to be a good literary citizen and support each other. For NaNoWriMo, trying to write 50,000 words a month with your full-time job and the Thanksgiving holiday can be grueling; that's 1,500 words a day. It's great for camaraderie knowing that there are other people all across the country taking part with you.

We are hosting four write-ins this year for people to come to SOMOS at the same time and write together. That's it. We sit there and write. It seems weird, but it really helps to be held accountable during those two hours and to have the support of fellow writers.

Tempo: Anything else our readers need to know?

DeBiase: All of the readings are $5, $8 for nonmembers. You can buy tickets at the door. The proceeds go toward SOMOS' long-term plan to purchase the building it is in. Workshops are priced separately and you can buy tickets online at somostaos.org or by calling 751-0081. The NaNoWriMo Kick-off Party is free, just bring a dish to share. This party is for anyone considering participating in NaNoWriMo. You can learn more about what it entails and meet other people interested in joining in the fun.

For information or reservations, call SOMOS at (575) 758-0081

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