Post Title: Friday Friends: Spotlight on Deanna Quietwater Noriega
What is your background?
My name is DeAnna Quietwater Noriega. I’m half Apache and a quarter Chippewa. I lost my vision at age eight. I have been a writer/poet, advocate on disability issues and story teller since childhood. I live in mid-Missouri with my husband and ninth guide dog, Enzo, a male German Shepherd.
My writing has appeared in magazines such as: Dialogue, Angels on Earth, The Braille Forum, Generations-Native Literature, Breath and Shadow, The Avocet, a Journal of Nature Poetry, and in various anthologies: Behind Our Eyes, Behind Our Eyes—A Second Look, 2+4=1, AWETHOLOGY LIGHT, My Blindness Isn’t Black, Where We Read the Wind, Turning the Clocks Forward Again.
What interests and hobbies do you pursue?
As a 24/7 caregiver, I have had to step back from my advocacy work and focus on things that can be scheduled to fit between activities around my home and husband’s needs. I enjoy online book clubs, knitting with needles and on a loom, hand sewing, and various crafts. I also have the kind of mind that can take a word or interesting phrase and run off to create anything from an essay, to a poem or short story. I have an exercise bike that I can use when the weather is too inclement to allow me to walk with my guide dog out of doors. I have also hosted zoom meetings for The American Council of the Blind on their community zoom calls. I helped with their national virtual convention and have hosted on average 3 calls a week, supporting facilitators who run events while I keep things working in the background.
What are your core values?
I feel that I need to make the world a better place for having been born into it. If I can cause someone to smile or do anything to brighten the day for anyone, my time here hasn’t been wasted.
Can you tell us about your book? When was it released?
My book, Fifty Years of Walking with Friends, went up on Amazon and was also available through SmashWords on January 9th 2021. It is a memoir of my life with nine guide dogs and includes poems and essays about the lifestyle of working with service dogs.
What motivated you to write it?
I have always used writing as a means to make sense of my world. I was struggling with the isolation I felt from friends and family during covid and the last straw was realizing that I wouldn’t be able to be present to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday with her in California. I decided being upset or sad wasn’t helping anyone, including me. Publishing a book which was sitting on my computer and dedicating it to my mother would be something tangible I could do to make her day brighter. She has always been one of my biggest fans. She is in the early stages of dementia. When I could finally make the journey to check on her, she read me a section of it. She keeps it on her coffee table. I write, but am shy about seeking publication!
What has been the most challenging part of your book journey?
I am the queen of the rewrite. I keep a file of short pieces that I call musings. I wanted to help people understand the interpersonal mutual growth that can be part of working with dogs and how their presence is more than a mobility aid, but can ground and teach the handler about how to be a better person. Sharing their lives with an entity who gives them unconditional love makes the good times better and the tough ones bearable. I had tons of material, figuring out how to organize it to tell the story was the easy part. Deciding what to do with it was the challenge. I was looking into offering it to university presses that had both veterinary and psychology departments was my first idea. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of material they wanted in advance to decide if they could use my book in their courses. Finally, I investigated how I could self-publish and get the book into mom’s hands on her big day.
How have your other jobs in life contributed to your writing life?
When I was a child, I was curious and wanted to explore everything around me. Being the oldest of five children in a close-knit Native American family provided me with a wealth of life experiences. I discovered after vision loss that I was still that same lively curious soul and determined I wasn’t going to let other people decide what I could or couldn’t do.
Shyness or fear were roadblocks but they could be overcome. Whenever I was tempted to let myself take the easy out society gives disabled people for doing less than they can, I made myself move to find a way.
I have been a social worker, a teacher, a restaurant owner, run a fair-trade gift shop, served in the Peace Corps, worked as a legislative liaison, and became a La Leche League Leader.
Since you’re a storyteller, can you share something humorous from your life? I remember you once mentioning something about a donkey …?
No, I never wrote about a donkey, although we did have two before we moved into town. I did have a pygmy goat who thought he should be a guide goat. My husband, Curt, teased me that he would be great in crowd clearance since he had never had his horns removed. He was about four months old when we got him and it would have been a major operation to remove them at that late date.
How do you stay positive in the world today?
I look for the small points of beauty all around us. I am a glass is half full kind of person.
What are your current writing goals?
I am working on a children’s book about growing up on the reservation with two younger brothers. It is based on the adventures my brothers and I had being raised by a single mother. I’m nearly done with it now.
What message would you like to leave with my readers?
It isn’t what we are given in life that matters, but what we do with what we have that leads to living a fulfilling life.
Deanna, where can my readers find out more information about you?
My author page is at https://www.dldbooks.com/dqnoriega/
Check out Deanna’s book!
Please leave a comment or question for Deanna in the Comments below.
You have just read “Friday Friends: Spotlight on Deanna Quietwater Noriega” by Amy L. Bovaird and Deanna Noriega.. © January 28, 2022. All rights reserved.