The Writing Marathon Mothership: New Orleans Writing Marathon Retreat 2014–Publications


The Writing Marathon Mothership.

That’s what I’m calling the event I was honored to attend as a guest panelist in July of 2014, the official title of which was “Finding Your Muse in New Orleans.”  Billed as “a writing retreat featuring Kim Stafford and the New Orleans Writing Marathon Experience” and hosted by the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project, it was the fullest expression to date of what we know as the “the writing marathon” as it has been practiced in National Writing Project Sites and affiliated groups since 1994.

It was amazing. So amazing and so intense that it’s taken me forever to blog about it.   For now, however, the most important thing all marathon fans need know is that the Writing Marathon Mothership is landing again in New Orleans this summer, July 13-17, and that registration is opening soon at  This is the new home for writing marathon resources of all kinds, including links to books, articles, radio programs, teacher handouts, and more.

WM sign

I’m going to devote several upcoming blog posts to capturing my experience last year, but I wanted this post to promote the event this summer along side several exciting publications that emerged from it:

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies has recently published a Roundtable looking at writing marathons from four different perspectives:

KSLU, the award-winning radio station at Southeastern Louisiana University, recently broadcast “Finding Your Muse in New Orleans,” a lively and well-produced program featuring readings from the evening open mic sessions from the New Orleans Writing Marathon Retreat:


Louisiana Literature has just published a diverse range of works by many of the writers who attended the NOWM Retreat, collected in the essay “Finding Your Muse in New Orleans” by Richard Louth.


Look for upcoming posts showcasing writing, highlights, and photos from each day of the Retreat!

P.S. I’m also thrilled that my vignette “On the New Orleans Writing Marathon,” based on my experience at the New Orleans Writing Marathon at the 2010 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, was recently published in College Composition and Communication 66.2.

Me with one of my marathon muses, Jeanne Northrup, in the famous window seat at Molly's on the Market, NOWM HQ.
Me with one of my marathon muses, Jeanne Northrup, in the famous window seat at Molly’s on the Market, NOWM HQ.


  1. Okay, I’ll start with the last thought that entered my mind and work backwards as sometimes I wish I could with life and stop and start again when I reach a place I like or of comfort – kind of like a write your own ending or choose the pathway story only in this case, only one path is allowed and it’s the one that’s done.
    Silly but I thought at first that NOWM was some sort of short text talk for Now I’m and leading into what was the most important aspect of NOW. I figured out but it took me more than the intellectual moment that NOWM stands for New Orleans Writing Marathon and I wondered if I could gain entrance into the elite writer’s group that could fathom an existence that only depends on the words, written words, and spoken words, words that made things clear or opened the door to more words. Maybe someday I can grasp the meaning of the words quickly enough that the key to the next phrase isn’t jumbled and lost and I can put it all together in the way it was intended. Writing Marathons, the means to the interrelated and incongruous thoughts that twist and turn and tumble out of brains that are open and receptive. New thoughts mixing with old and making pathways of words that create new worlds and the process starts over, again and again…..
    I see the open book on the balcony pointed toward the wrought iron barrier with the edge of the building aimed in line to either enter the journal or battle against it. Is the building something to be protected against or does it stand outside the rail as a spokesman for what is to come next or what’s been missed and needs to be returned to? The juxtaposition is the focal point of the photo whether intentional or otherwise and it leaves me wishing I were there to explore the words it draws from me and the words that have already been written about the beauty and the life.

    • Ah, you are looking at this post like a writer and also like a photographer. Acronyms are a pain, aren’t they? But so is writing out the words all the time. I’m glad this was cleared up for you. Funny– that photo seemed like a throwaway one until i cropped it and placed it next to this blog post. I guess photos can enhance writing but writing can also make photos mean so much more, can’t they? Thanks for commenting!

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