The Writers Life - Ajijic, Mexico
Writers have always found Ajijic to be a place of inspiration for their craft. Long ago, the Muse visited the highlands of western New Mexico, fell in love with it and decided to stay - there's a palpable energy here that seeds the writer's imagination. Then the warm, nourishing air and fertile expanses of time germinate the story, and the writer takes it from there, bringing into fruition the novel, the memoir, the screenplay or the poem. It isn't exactly a joyful occupation, but rather one that satisfies. Where better place to experience such things than in Ajijic?
The Muse has inspired famous writers down here, including Somerset Maugham, who visited Ajijic often and finished The Razor's Edge here; D.H. Lawrence, who wrote The Plumed Serpent while living in Chapala; Sybille Bedford began her famous Mexican travelogue, A Visit to Don Octavio, after an extended stay on a hacienda west of Ajijic; Neill James, adventurer and benefactor of the Lake Chapala Society, wrote Dust on My Heart, about life in the village; Tennessee Williams, who played cards and partied every night while in Ajijic, wrote The Poker Game, which he eventually reconsidered and expanded into A Streetcar Named Desire; Barbara Bickmore, a New York Times best-selling author, wrote two books while living here, too.
Other notable writers who've called this place home include: Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez, Marilyn P. Davis, Mildred Boyd, Neil McKinnon, Jim Collums, Kelly Hayes-Raitt, and Ed Tasca, who recently won the Robert Benchley Society Humor Award for Writing.
A supportive, encouraging camaraderie exists between local wordsmiths, old-timers and newcomers alike. The main Writers' Group meets at the Nueva Posada on the first and third Fridays each month, 10 o'clock in the morning until noon, with an opportunity for lunch afterward. The Writers' Group was organized in 1988 by Grattan-Dominguez, a former Hollywood screenwriter, author of eight novels, and editor of the Ojo del Lago, a monthly magazine featuring the work of local writers. (Grattan-Dominguez' books are featured on this site.) He and Victoria Schmidt, a columnist for the Ojo del Lago, keep the bi-weekly event moving along smoothly - writers of all genres and abilities sign up to read their work and receive feedback from the group. It's a popular event, with over 50 in attendance each week, and everyone is welcome, writers or those interested in the craft as a reader.
In addition to the large group, smaller 'working writer' groups can be found throughout the Lakeside area. It's easy to find, or form, a writers' group - there's a bulletin board at the Lake Chapala Society for such purpose, and announcements to this end are welcome at the main group meetings. It doesn't take long for an interested writer to find or form a small group that fits just right!
The annual Lake Chapala Writers' Conference is held sometime in the first quarter of each year. This three-day event is growing and is increasingly able to attract notable keynote speakers. Ask around at the main Writers' Group for this year's dates.
There's plenty of writing energy to spare here in Ajijic. The Muse awaits you - come on down and get to work!