“Hole in Our Hearts,” published earlier this year by SouthWest Writers.
“Hole in Our Hearts,” published earlier this year by SouthWest Writers, is a collection of stories and poems by New Mexicans, telling stories of military life.


The book “Holes in Our Hearts” published earlier this year was integral in winning one of its authors and co-editor two prestigious awards this year. It was also instrumental in determining Jim Tritten’s next mission in life: teaching others how to write their own stories about how the military has impacted their lives. And in doing so, perhaps help people work to resolve emotions that previously may have been pent up and suppressed.

“I have spent quite a bit of time encouraging other writers,” he said in an interview this month. “The objective of the first book was to get the writings published of people who have never been published before. This time, it’s to get people who have never written before to write.”

Tritten, a retired Navy officer turned author and editor, will be putting on a workshop from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, titled “Military Writing Techniques and Tips” during an SouthWest Writers event at the UNM-Continuing Education Building, 1634 University Blvd. NE, in Albuquerque. There’s a $20 fee for Southwest Writers members and a $30 cost for non-members.

The Corrales resident recently earned some quality credentials for leading the workshop. He was named “Writer of the Year” by the Military Writers Society of America. That award was followed up this month by a prestigious award from SouthWest Writers, which works in support of published and non-pushed authors.

Tritten takes no fee from the workshop; all proceeds go back to promoting the program. Separate grant funding will allow for Tritten to conduct online memoir-writing workshops through SouthWest Writers. Additional funding will allow qualifying veterans to attend for free.

Also on Nov. 4, several of the more than 50 New Mexicans that contributed stories, poems relating to military life will read from the book during a SouthWest Writers event at 10 a.m. at the same location at no cost to attendees.

While it’s always better to attend in person, the workshop and reading will be carried over Zoom. Instructions to do so can be found here: www.southwestwriters.com/new-zoom-meeting-procedure

A similar reading from “Holes in Our Hearts” will be held at the Placitas Community Library on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, with a different set of authors reading their works. Among them are three Sandoval County residents: E. Joe Brown and Ben White of Rio Rancho and Placitas’ own Carl Hitchens.

The reading and discussion will take from from 2 to 4 p.m. at the library, 453 NM 165.

Holes in Our Hearts

“Holes in Our Hearts” was published by SouthWest Writers on Memorial Day weekend this year. Serving as a military anthology of sorts, the book includes 96 stories of prose and poetry written by 54 New Mexicans, some of them published authors but most of them not. Some stories are simply snapshots of military life, while others are powerful, poignant and sometimes painful stories.

Not only is “Holes in Our Hearts” a book of stories that give readers a glimpse into the human stories of people who served in the military, sharing their story was catharsis for some of the writers.

“For some of them it’s helped them in their healing and process the passing of loved ones,” said Tritten, who himself learned that lesson and now writes nearly every day as a form of therapy.

In addition to co-editing the book with Dan Wetmore and Joseph Badal, Tritten penned two stories to the book, and his wife Jasmine, who was born in Nazi-occupied Denmark, contributed another.

His story titled “Thank You for Your Service,” in part, ponders the perception of Vietnam veterans, who were scorned for serving their country during an unwanted war. It also serves to reconcile the often unseen costs that come with the commitment to service for one’s country.

The other story, “Adjusting to New Realities,” is about Tritten coping with, and people’s fallacious perceptions of, PTSD. “I transitioned from the initial diagnosis to being part of a new club,” he writes.

Tritten decided to turn a negative into a positive. He now volunteers to assist veterans suffering from the infliction and other mental illnesses.

The book, in a way, is an extension of that work. As he’ll likely discuss during this workshop, writing can help in the healing process. The work may also be comforting for readers, he says, because many of the stories are about things people who have served, or knew someone who served in the military, can relate to.

“If you can sit around the dinner table and talk about these stories, you can write about them too,” he said.

Reading from “Holes in Our Hearts”
Saturday, Nov. 4, 10 a.m. to noon
UNM-Continuing Education Building
1634 University Blvd. NE, Albuquerque

Military Writing Techniques and Tips
Saturday, Nov. 4, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
UNM-Continuing Education Building
1634 University Blvd. NE, Albuquerque
$20 for SouthWest Writers members, $30 non-members

Reading from “Holes in Our Hearts”
Saturday, Nov. 11, 2 to 4 p.m.
Placitas Community Library
453 NM 165.

“Hole in Our Hearts,” published earlier this year by SouthWest Writers, is a collection of stories and poems by New Mexicans, telling stories of military life.

TS Last, editor

TS Last is the editor of the Corrales Comment and senior contributor to the Sandoval Signpost. A 25-year veteran of New Mexico news, he previously served as the editor of the Journal North in Santa Fe and has worked in the newsrooms of the El Defensor Chieftan and Valencia News Bulletin.

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