Some of you know we just moved into a new home in November. I got most everything settled by Thanksgiving and just in time to bust out the Christmas decorations. I kicked many of the sorting projects along the calendar until after the first of the year.
It’s amazing what we keep. I came across a sheet on how to deliver the proper Shakespearean insult. I’m sure I thought that I’d use it for a character someday. But the two things that struck me the most were from people I once called friends. One, a tale of betrayal and the other the loss of a person who changed my life. Both tales of how solitary writing is. Friends…writing friends are so important because they’re the only ones who understand the solitary hours spent writing. Families many times don’t understand the passion that pulls us away from them.
The betrayal still hurts. I thought she was a friend and as a multi-published author in my genre, I looked up to her as a writer. Her broken trust still colors my willingness to trust new friends. It even tainted my Christmas gift choices this year. I found myself thinking I’d really like to do this, but what if by this time next year they’ve abandoned me? I know, I know…if I had to get on a plane with all this baggage, I’d never be able to afford the extra fees. Still, the feelings are there.
Then, there was the returned Christmas card. My friend, Saxon, moved to the small town in northern Idaho several years ago. She introduced me to the writing community in Boise and gave me a valuable piece of advice. Keep track of your work.
In the late 50’s, she wrote a poem and sent to her son in college. Thinking it wasn’t much of a poem, she didn’t try to get it published. Her son, on the other hand, did and put it on his dorm wall. That’s when the poem got away from her. She found it in a U.S. Forest Service publication where she worked. Then, it began showing up with other people’s names on it. I remember her saying, “Be careful who you send your work to. It can get away from you.”
She was right. One of my high school friends—a non-writer—wanted to read my book. I sent her the first three chapters with the request that she not show it to anyone. Sure enough, she gave it to her daughter to read. When I found out, Saxon’s words came rushing back to me. It hit home. Only another writer would understand the implications.
The poem that got away from my friend Saxon was, The Indispensable Man. If you enter Saxon White Kessinger on Yahoo her poem will come up.
Saxon had a kind and gentle soul. With the return of her Christmas card and no card from her this year, I fear the worse. A lost kinsman.
Writing is a lonely business and the loss of a writing friend, no matter what the reason, hurts. I will miss the friendship that might have been and the one I lost to time. I do believe the future lies ahead with my new writing friends and my old faithful writing friends. I trust and treasure them all.
When family and non-writing friends look at you and wonder why you sit at that computer for hours on end, turn to your writing friends. They’ll understand and laugh with you at all the oddities of the normal world.