Home from the Western Writers of America Conference

Home from the Western Writers of America Conference. For my friends and family who have no idea what this entails–most of you, let me explain briefly! This is the premiere organization that supports Western authors (all stripes), historians, screen-play writers, song writers, poets, and by extension, producers and actors who benefit from the work that the writers produce. Some of them also belong to the organization, hence the fun with Peter Sherayco (Texas Jack Vermillion in Tombstone), Bobby Carradine (in lots of movies but you may remember him as the oldest boy-cowboy in John Wayne’s movie Cowboys), and Howard Kazanjian. And yes, David Morrell, who wrote First Blood that most of you know as Rambo, is even a WWA board member. He is a western writer too.

What is most important, in my opinion, aside from the organization’s support in helping authors craft their works, is trying to keep the genre alive, right down to our children in schools. Our organization raises money to enrich curriculum for schools to help in that regard. So proud of this.

As our world becomes smaller and countries’ cultures intermingle, we risk losing our particular history of identity – the beautiful and the ugly, which we should never candy-coat. If anyone read my blog about the young lady on the airplane who didn’t know who Butch Cassidy was, let alone Paul Newman and Robert Redford, you realize there is a cultural deficiency in America.

The western is not just a shoot-’em-up story. It is our history as Americans, our spirit even today, as evidenced in collections of individual stories about historic events, present-day individuals, landscapes, and American attitudes past and present. Yes, my book about my uncle radical Frank Little fit in beautifully, as will my upcoming book about rebel-girl Jane Street, and, in research-phase, Wyoming Lawman Hank Boedeker. All three individuals were dauntless.

While knowing who a famous western outlaw is not that important, it is essential that our youth understand their history and how it figures into the broader American story, no matter if that child’s family came as immigrants, or descended from a slave, is a card-carrying tribal member, or is a Viet-Nam refugee who embraced the American spirit, which is Western from the get-go. Western history and its stories are still being made–every day. I am so pleased to have found a place that supports my excitement in telling stories, my love of historical research, and networking with the most interesting people in the world!

Jane Little Botkin