About Marian Blue
I currently write and edit from home on Whidbey Island, Washington, but arrival here, unplanned and unforeseen, required traveling a winding path.
A writing life comes in many different shapes and styles, just as writing itself does. Although commercial marketing likes to box writers and their work within genres, writers themselves, if left alone, write rainbows.
My writing started in earnest when I was about eight; I discovered that if I lied verbally, I was punished, but if I lied on paper, I received a gold star. After that, I wrote almost every day. In my journal, for school work, for people on holidays. I wrote true (mostly) stories and fiction and poetry, and I dreamed of becoming a writer, praised for lying.
Through a variety of actions that had unintended consequences, “being a writer” faded into “getting through the day.” I needed to work and take care of my family. Writing didn’t fit into my days.
Then lightning struck in the form of the editor of the local weekly newspaper, The San Miguel Basin Forum. He stopped me on the steps of the post office in Nucla, Colorado, and he asked me if I would write the news from Paradox Valley where I was living. At that time, I was 26 years old, and I had two children. I’d written nothing for the editor, and why he asked me–why he knew me–baffled me.
I said yes without even asking what he wanted or why he asked. I remember, though, that it paid seven cents a column inch. When I found out I would be paid for writing, I immediately became nervous: surely the editor would realize I was a fraud and didn’t deserve even one inch of pay.
In those days, the news from Paradox Valley was reminiscent of 1920s gossip columns: Mr. and Mrs. P—– motored to Grand Junction Saturday to shop and visit with their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. L—-. One must remember that this era pre-dated cell phones, computers, answering machines, and the concept of social media. People looked forward to the columns to find out who had been doing what.
Nonetheless, I soon craved more. I began to make up a bit of folklore here and there to liven things up. Short. Silly. And well received.
Soon I added more substantial details, even break-out articles, on the local bull sale, the government efforts to decrease salt flowing into the Delores River, and local chaining issues. As I did so, I wound up going to meetings here and there to report on them. I also often went into the newspaper office to help out, which led to learning about layout, ad design, and even some photo journalism. In addition, I began to do some editing on press releases and write some editorial columns.
I loved it all. Consequently, I began to branch out. I became a stringer (freelance journalist) for the Montrose Daily Press, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, and the Denver Post. I interviewed the governor, senators, and local celebrities. I went down in uranium mines and up in a hot air balloon. Every day was different, and I kept my notebook and camera handy. Whenever I needed a human to model in a picture, I dragged my kids into the frame; they began to be teased at school about always being in the paper. I also wrote op-ed pieces twice a month for the Sentinel and began writing feature articles for various Sunday magazines. My pay went up.
I can’t recommend better training for any writer than working in a small newspaper where you learn skills that can be elusive if you go directly to work for a large paper writing (stage one) obits and weddings.
From there, writing evolved, as did my training. I took many courses and workshops and academic training, and I almost never said no to an assignment. Even if something sounded boring, I took it as a challenge to make interesting. Besides, one thing I learned at the San Miguel Basin Forum is that no story is unimportant. To the people in the story, the picture and words in the paper tell about life, important life. Every story is a big story, and any journalist who doesn’t recognize that isn’t ready to write. In addition, I never knew what I would learn in one story that would later feed another article, essay, poem, or short story. The world is like a fun house, and you never know what is going to pop out of the next mirror.
I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity with the San Miguel Basin Forum, which is still operating (https://www.facebook.com/SanMiguelBasinForum/). All my writing credits stem, in part, from my early work there, back in the early 1970s. Of course, I’m grateful for the many classes and workshops at the university level, but I’d have never done well there without that early training.
The following is a comprehensive listing of my writing life. This is much more than would ever appear in a bio, but it’s quick to scan. The order is chronological. What it doesn’t show is that I’d published before years before I ever told anyone, in answer to the question, “What do you do?” that I was a writer.
From Paradox, Colorado, 1973-1979
- 1973-1979. San Miguel Basin Forum, journalist, photographer, editor
- 1975-1979. Montrose Daily Press, stringer photo journalist
- 1975-1979. Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, stringer photo journalist, op-ed writer Sentinel’s Sunday magazine, Colorado West, various articles
- 1977-1979. Denver Post, stringer photo journalist
- San Miguel Power Association, Inc. annual report author
From Dominican Republic, 1980-1982
- 1980-1982. Santo Domingo News, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Staff journalist and reporter. Also worked as editorial advisor.
- 1980-1982. Freelancer for Diario (Santo Domingo) and The Christian Science Monitor
- Skywriting 4, fiction (Colorado)
From Ft. Collins, Colorado, 1982-1984
- Choice Magazine, regional magazine: multiple articles
- Colorado Review, literary magazine: reviews, editorial assistant, 1983 & 1984
- Collegian, college newspaper: articles and op-ed
- Coloradoan (Ft. Collins daily newspaper): stringer
- Twentieth Century Western Writers, St. Martin’s Press: author bios/reviews
From Mankato, Minnesota, 1984-1986
- Mankato Poetry Review, literary magazine: multiple poems in multiple issues
- The Amaranth Review, literary magazine: poetry
- North Country Anvil, literary magazine: 1987, essay
- Muse, college literary magazine: essay, short fiction, poetry
- Mankato Free Press, journalism
From Portland, Oregon, 1986-1987
- The Oregonian, daily newspaper: journalist
- Northwest Magazine, Sunday supplement of The Oregonian, essay
- Minnesota Reviews, book reviews
From Norfolk, Virginia, 1987-1993
- The Virginian-Pilot, daily newspaper: assignment articles, special edition articles
- “Water Watch” columns weekly in Sunday Magazine
- Virginia Business, assignment articles
- Cruising World, article
- Motorboat & Yachting, Great Britain, 1992, article
- AWP Chronicle, various interviews with writers
- Portfolio Magazine, assignment articles
- Starboard Tack, weekly sailing columns
- The Skipjack Norfolk Ambassador, editor for newsletter
- The Virginia Observer, multiple articles
- Chesapeake Bay Magazine, multiple articles
- Soundings, East Coast boating newspaper, multiple articles
- Coastal Cruising, multiple articles/essays
- Cold Mountain Review, 1993, fiction
- Amaranth Review, poetry
- Marketing Director: writing press releases & articles for boating magazines and newspapers
- Funny Times, humor
- Minne HA! HA!, humor essay
- Tidewater Virginian, articles
- FIRST BOOK! Editor, Southeast Writers Handbook, Tanners Creek Press, 1993-1994
- Poetry Editor, 1992-1993, James River Review, Norfolk
- Sisyphus, Poetry
- Dominion Review, multiple issues, Fiction, poetry
- Amelia, literary magazine, interview with Jane Miller
- Ghent Magazine, Contributing Editor
From Clinton, WA 1993-2017
- FOURTH BOOK! Co-Author, Music to My Years, Life and Love Between the Notes, biography of Artie Kane, Amphora Editions, 2017
- Founding editor, Soundings Review, 2008-2012
- Whidbey Life Magazine, editor digital issues/writer for digital & print issues, 2016-2017
- THIRD BOOK! How Many Words for Rain, 2010, Sunbreak Press, poetry by Marian Blue and photography by Lynne Hann
- SECOND BOOK! Co-editor, Sea of Voices, Isle of Story, Triple Tree Press, 2003
- Serving in Silence, copy editor and layout, 2016 2nd edition, book
- Copy Editor, book, Community at the Crossroads, The History of Bayview on Whidbey Island, 2002
- Editor, 2000-2002, One World Journeys, online magazine for expeditions and special projects (Lives Out of China, Empowering Women in Nigeria, etc.)
- An Island Full of Laughter, anthology, 2004 anthology, multiple short essays/poetry
- The Cuivre River Anthology, fiction, honorable mention in contest, 2004
- Drive, women’s true stories from the open road, Seal Press, 2002, essay included
- ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), interview with W. D. Snodgrass
- Eureka Literary Magazine, 2002 Special issue, fiction
- Red-Headed Stepchild Magazine, poetry
- AWP Chronicle, 1995, Interview with poets Donald Hall & Jane Kenyon
- Passing the Three Gates, Interviews with Charles Johnson, U of WA Press, 2004 (interview by Marian Blue included from AWP Chronicle previous publication)
- Tiller and the Pen, anthology, Eighth Moon Press, 1994, short story included (“Standing Watch”)
- A Hundred White Daffodils, book, Graywolf Press, 1999 (interview by Marian Blue included from AWP Chronicle previous publication)
- Snowy Egret, 2000, fiction
- Raven Chronicles, essay and prose poem, multiple issues
- Lynx Eye literary magazine, 2002, fiction
- Shades of Gray, Literary magazine, poetry
- Crosscurrents, multiple issues, essay, poetry
- Mute Note Earthward, Anthology Washington Poets Assn, poetry
- Tattoos on Cedar, Anthology Washington Poets Assn., poetry
- New Humor Magazine, essay
- Sqajet, Skagit River Poets, multiple issues
- Whidbey Loon, multiple poems
- Camping Today, 1994, cover article
- Island Independent, newspaper, articles and column
- WAIF Newsletter, editor for newsletter (animal shelter)
- Nor’westing, 1996, article
- Exhibitions, literary magazine, 1994, fiction
Creative Writing Teacher:
University of Minnesota, Mankato campus, TA
Portland, Oregon Community Schools, Journal writing
Old Dominion University, Journal Writing & Creative Writing, Norfolk, VA
Writers Digest Correspondence Courses
Whidbey Writers Association, Whidbey Island, WA (various classes)
Skagit Valley College, Whidbey Campus, Washington
Also have presented and read at various conferences and events over the years including San Diego Writers Conference (CA), Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference (WA), and Write on the Sound (WA)
Poetry, Irene Leache Memorial 75th Literary Contest
Virginia Press Association, first place sports feature writing
Saturday Writers, Missouri, fiction
Ron Hubbard, Writers of the Future Contest, third place
Finalist, 4th Annual Annie Dillard Award for Nonfiction, The Bellingham Review
The Poetry Society of Virginia, J. Franklin Dew Award, 2nd place, 1991