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CARMELLA PADILLA: HIGH WRITING, LOW RIDING.

Byline: ROBERT NOTT

Six months ago, writer Carmella Padilla received a royalty check for about $72 in the mail.

"What's that?" her mother said.

"Oh, my God, it's a royalty check!" Padilla responded.

"Don't you get those all the time?" her mother asked.

"No. This is the first one."

"Well, in that case," her mother said, "you better go work for the state."

Padilla didn't take her mother's advice. She's been writing professionally since she graduated from college (The University of New Mexico The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a public university in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was founded in 1889. It also offers multiple bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degree programs in all areas of the arts, sciences, and engineering. , majoring in journalism), and it pays off in ways that don't always add

to the bank account.

When Padilla received the news that she was a recipient of a Governor's Award -- via a letter that was inadvertently delivered to her neighbor -- she cried. "I was speechless. Then I said to Luis [Tapia, her husband and an artist who was honored with a Governor's Award in 1996], 'I'm too young for this.' Most of the people who have received this award are people I think of as having put in decades and decades of work. I was really overwhelmed." She momentarily stopped being overwhelmed when her husband told her, "Well, you're older than you think."

Padilla is a native of Santa Fe Santa Fe, city, Argentina
Santa Fe, city (1991 pop. 341,000), capital of Santa Fe prov., NE Argentina, a river port near the Paraná, with which it is connected by canal.
. She has written articles for The New Mexican New Mexico Abbr. NM or N.M. or N.Mex.

A state of the southwest United States on the Mexican border. It was admitted as the 47th state in 1912.
 (including Pasatiempo), the Wall Street Journal, and the Santa Fe Reporter and written or co-written several books on regional culture, including Low 'n Slow: Lowriding in New Mexico New Mexico, state in the SW United States. At its northwestern corner are the so-called Four Corners, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at right angles; New Mexico is also bordered by Oklahoma (NE), Texas (E, S), and Mexico (S).  (1999) and El Rancho de las Golondrinas
This article is about the ranch and museum in Santa Fe County. For the village near Mora, see Golondrinas, New Mexico
Coordinates:

 (2009). She co-curated the 2001 Eliseo Rodriguez: El Sexto Pintor exhibition at the New Mexico Museum of Art The New Mexico Museum of Art (formerly the Museum of Fine Arts), the oldest art museum in the state of New Mexico, is one of four state-run museums in Santa Fe. It is one of eight museums in the state operated by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.  and 2002's Conexiones: Connections in Spanish Colonial Art at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, and she edited the accompanying catalogs.

She was working on a piece for El Palacio magazine (past deadline --

a rarity for her, she said) when Pasatiempo paid a visit to the 200-year-old adobe house south of town that she shares with her husband. Dance masks, santos, and plates adorn the walls of every room.

The couple's brown Labrador retriever Labrador retriever, breed of large sporting dog whose origins are obscure but whose immediate ancestors were developed in Newfoundland and brought to England in the early 1800s. It stands about 23 in. (58.4 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs between 60 and 75 lb (27. , Chispa, slept on the kitchen

rug during the interview.

Padilla writes nearly every day but acknowledges that it's not always easy. "It's somewhat of a meditation for me," she explained. "I'm not a fast writer; it was a real challenge being in the newsroom environment of 'Hurry up, hurry up, you've got to let it go!' What I like about it is the ability to tap into this element inside myself that usually gets ignored in the hustle and bustle of daily living."

She didn't write much as a child. But she read, encouraged by her grandfather Manuel Lujan Sr. (a teacher and former mayor of Santa Fe), who told her, "One of the most important things you can do is know your history, know where you came from and your place in the world." Her five brothers were also influences -- toughening her up, as she put it, to thrive in a man's world.

Another influence was journalist and teacher Tony Hillerman Tony Hillerman (born May 27 1925) is an award-winning American author of detective novels and non-fiction works.

His mystery novels are set in the Four Corners area of New Mexico and Arizona. The protagonists are Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo tribal police. Lt.
, who encouraged her to study journalism at UNM UNM University of New Mexico
UNM UnumProvident Corporation
UNM Under New Management
UNM United Nations Medal
UNM User Name Mapping
. "You're going to learn how to write, how to do research, how to meet deadlines, and how to shape a story in so much space and still say something," she recalled him telling her. Though she briefly contemplated a career as a physical therapist, Hillerman's advice -- and her failure to pass biology, chemistry, and other science-related courses needed for such a degree -- changed her mind.

Another UNM teacher, James Barbour, had an even greater impact on Padilla. Though he rarely said a word to her about her writing in class, she ran into him at Evangelo's bar on San Francisco Street sometime after graduation. She went up to him to say "I'm so-and-so; I took your class," but, before she could finish, Padilla said, he turned to his wife and said, "This girl writes like an angel kissed her at birth." Then he turned to Padilla and said,

"I hope you're writing."

She took that as a sign. "When you're thinking about what to do with your life, remember those little things that happen that say to you, 'Pay attention.'"

Though Padilla is perhaps best known for her nonfiction works, she acknowledged that she has written a lot of fiction that she's never tto publish. "I'm totally intimidated by it. I just don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)

"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party.
 what the hell I'm doing," she explained. Padilla is working up the nerve to tackle a personal memoir, tentatively titled "Moon Face," that will detail her experiences with lupus lupus (l`pəs), noninfectious chronic disease in which antibodies in an individual's immune system attack the body's own substances. , an autoimmune disease autoimmune disease, any of a number of abnormal conditions caused when the body produces antibodies to its own substances. In rheumatoid arthritis, a group of antibody molecules called collectively RF, or rheumatoid factor, is complexed to the individual's own gamma  she has lived with since she was 17.

She said that she can't imagine doing anything else with her life besides writing. "If I had my druthers druth¬∑ers ¬†
pl.n. Informal
A choice or preference: "Given their druthers, these hell-for-leather free marketeers might sell the post office" George F. Will.
, I'd write all the time. If you can write, and if you can communicate clearly, you have a lot of skills to do a lot of things. And I've always enjoyed hearing other people's stories and writing about them. It was destiny, as they say."

-- Robert Nott
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Title Annotation:Pasatiempo
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Sep 25, 2009
Words:829
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