A green light to greatness.®

2015 Mayborn Magazine

Bridging the Great Divide

The Seeker


His quest would eventually give birth to Big Little Man, his taboo-busting narrative, published last year to rave reviews. The Library Journal lauded the book as “revelatory and sobering.” Kirkus Reviews called it “a deft and illuminating memoir and cultural history.”

The Change Agent


While most writers aim only to describe their world, he wants to fix it. In the written word, Chang has found his tool. But making repairs is difficult when the world won’t wait.

Family Guy


Eighteen months and 1,000 pages of interviews later, Jeff wrote a 150-page book proposal and submitted it to 25 publishing houses. All but three turned him down, saying the story was “too dark” or that “no one would read it.” Of the three houses that wanted the work, Jeff chose Scribner because he felt its editor, Colin Harrison, would make him go deeper with his research, even at the expense of Jeff feeling awkward or uncomfortable.

On Summoning the Gods


We surveyed Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference speakers past and present — as well as other members, friends and family of the “tribe” — about their rituals, routines and regimens. These quirks might run the categorical gamut: environmental (a remote, hopefully tropical writer’s cave), timing (midnight mania), behavioral (pre-game rituals such as meditating, exercising or howling at the moon) — even in-game habits such as writing while standing or drinking copious amounts of Mountain Dew.

The Book Doctor Is In


Bringing a book into being involves more than just guiding a writer from first page to last. It’s a symphony of story, reporting, structure, art, design and politics — and Harrison is a master conductor. “We’re making something that’s never been made before and won’t be made again,” he says, “so we have to do it as best we can.”

Lessons in the Art of Hanging Out


[H]e would never interfere or stage a scene or become a player in the story, choosing instead to observe the Bardens as their lives unfolded. That meant a lot of waiting around for things to happen — waiting to capture the right detail, the right emotion, the right scene, the right snatch of dialogue, as he masterfully engaged in one of the purest forms of narrative journalism; what Gay Talese calls, “the fine art of hanging out.”

Keith's Song


If he lingers too long, they know how to make him move on: Slip him a few bucks for a beer. “Go enjoy yourself,” says one, patting him on the shoulder. Keith stutters a “thank you” and heads straight to the bar. He grabs a beer, looks for someone to talk to, but no one returns his smile. His grin disappears, his head drops and he withdraws to his same corner, waiting, forever it seems, for the band to finish its last country song.

A Writer's Path


Writers need time to be alone with their thoughts, and these mountains enable her to slip into what she calls “musing mode,” a twist of mind where she can access her creativity, think bold thoughts and shape big ideas — which, she frankly admits, is the hardest part of her writing process.

Voyage Around My Mother


Reflecting on my mother’s struggles, I think about how each of us ages differently. I recall a woman I had written about — Lona Lewis, who at 104, with the aid of a walker, still goes to lunch every day at the community center in Archer City, Texas. I wish my mother could be that strong. “The hard part about getting old is seeing other people die,” Lona told me. “God is keeping me here for a reason. I just don’t know what it is.”

American Writer


Michael grew up in Texas, raised by a single mom to whom he dictated stories about cows and ninjas before he could read. She wrote them down in construction-and-notebook-paper books, which he illustrated in crayon. “I’ve just always enjoyed stories and storytelling,” Mooney says. “My mother always valued writing, reading, and intelligence.” Becoming a writer was his way to make her proud. “Plus, my mother always stressed that I should do something I love.”

Ethics 101


Her answers were terrible —the ones that actually made me more suspicious were not the ones about the reporting [she had done] because I started to realize there must be some deal with Jackie. It was the one about [why she didn't question] the frat: ‘They’re so powerful, they have fathers who work in government.’ That seemed odd to me. That’s the view of the world that can get you in trouble.

Writing from the Edge


More than 15 years after its birth, Spirit remains a literary phenomenon. It’s sold more than a million copies. It’s become a book-in-common at more than 25 colleges and universities. Journalism classes use Spirit as a casebook for cross-cultural sensitivity. And medical practitioners use it as a resource to better understand how to effectively care for patients from other cultures.


The Magazine