For my daughter, on her birthday

For Gwen…

I nearly lost you.

Then you nearly lost me moments after you were born. The world went gray and hazy. The doctors had to tell your father to come look at how beautiful you were because he was afraid the first minutes with you would also be the last with me. You entered the world with the theme music to “Halloween” playing in the background, close to midnight.  I laugh about this now. My cell phone was ringing and your grandmother and aunt were both worried because it had been so very long since there’d been any update. And then when it was calm again, I got to hold you and stare into those dark eyes that already knew me.

Somehow, we came home from the hospital together, you looking very pink and promptly introduced to our pugs. I should’ve known that you would be a dog lover like me. I did not sleep the first two days that you lived in our home, not until your dad said I had to sleep. He stayed awake with you. The first movie you ever saw was “Rambo.” I also laugh about this.

You’re twelve now and pulling away. I’m excited to see who you’ve become. A writer. An artist. An astronomer. A chemist. A photographer. An equestrian. A figure skater. A musician. A Girl Scout. An acolyte. A niece. A cousin. A granddaughter. A daughter. A sister. A soul full of compassion.

Just when I think I couldn’t love you more, I do.

Happy birthday, my lovebug.

Giving Back as Much as You Take

Hello, Friends.

October is upon us in all its gray-skied glory. Archon has come and gone for another year, and it was another weekend of reconnecting with friends and writer-friends and all the familiar faces that you get to know after a time in the convention scene. I really enjoyed myself, and it’s always wonderful to catch up and hear what other people are working on and delving into.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the aspect of writing that surrounds the give and take writers share with each other and share with their readers. We give these stories to our readers and we take a sense of accomplishment or joy in knowing the work is read. I think it’s a fair trade because it’s not asking anyone to like what you’ve written or to somehow provide you with validation of what you do. You merely give and you take back that breath of relief that says, “These words are going into someone else’s thoughts.” It’s not out of balance where one side weighs heavier than another. There’s a risk in skewing that balance. If the only reason you write and share your work is for people to laud it, then you’re trying to take more than what you’re giving. What happens if you don’t receive that attention from others? It can mess with your sense of self and self-value. Admittedly, it’s very touching when you find out that someone has really loved your work, but that sense of purpose or validation doesn’t need to come from outside sources. It lives in each of us if we recognize it and accept it.

There’s another dynamic that happens as a writer with the give and take, and it usually involves having other writers help you navigate the publishing path. It can be anything from having critique partners helping you develop your voice and technical skill to friends helping in your agent/publication quest to others just providing a listening ear. And these are all good, useful people in your life, but you have to give back. If you’re that person who always wants crits from your CPs but never has time to turn one around for them, you need to reassess what this relationship is. You have to be there for them, too. I know I’m guilty of maybe not always having all the time someone else needs from me, but I keep the door open and try. And if I don’t have the time right then or can’t make a deadline, I let my CPs know, “Hey, life got hairy and I’m not going to make it. What else could I do in its place to help you?” Writing can feel very lonely at times, so it’s important to have a strong support system to help you through it. But then you also have got to support others when they need it. If you see a newer writer going, “I don’t know how to handle x,y,z” and you do know what that situation is like, offer an ear. Share experience. Because someone somewhere along the way will do that for you.

Kindness matters. People remember when someone is kind to them. People remember when you’ve taken your time and given something to them.

Talk to you all soon,