My website is up and running, but I have been putting off writing my first blog post. You know, the initial blog post wherein I introduce myself to the world as a new writer on the scene. The post that defines my style, that hooks, that makes a reader, laugh, cry, tell their friends and helps me build an audience. The post that agents and editors who at this very moment have my manuscript in their powerful hands, and who may be visiting here, seeking to form a general impression of who I am to decide if they want to even entertain the idea of taking me on.
So yeah, no pressure.
What to write? What to write? What. To. Write?
Life removed this particular dilemma this morning when I caught up on my email after a week of travel.
Handsome Hansel is the nom de plume of a regular contributor to Romance University, a website that provides informative content for writers. I subscribe to RU, getting their articles delivered via email. I have to admit that the first time I saw a contribution by man calling himself Handsome Hansel, I did an eye roll and scrolled to the bottom of the article, where contributors’ photos generally can be found, my second eye roll at the ready. I saw his photo and lost my smugness pretty quickly. Scrolling back up, I read his article and got another, better surprise. His writing was real, honest, sprinkled with humor, and totally relatable. I felt the immediate connection I guarantee all his writer-readers do. HH became one of my favorite contributors to RU. I found myself hoping to be greeted by his photo whenever I opened a new RU email, knowing that if I saw it I would be soon nodding my head, laughing, or taking to heart what he wrote that day. Whether revealing a bit about his life and his personal journey, or writing on craft, or about the joys and struggles of writing, his contributions are heartfelt as well as thought-provoking.
So, I was happy to find an email this morning from RU (dated November 8). It was about time for one from HH, wasn’t it? I clicked it open. Yes, there he was in his photo, handsome (what can I say, he hit that one spot on), dapper, hands coolly tucked into his pockets. By this time, he feels like an old friend, though I’ve never met or spoken with the man. Reaching for my coffee, I settled in for a good read. A few sentences in . . . the unexpected.
HH is retiring. And not because his book has found a home. HH is ill. Seriously ill.
My obsessing over my first blog post slipped away at the news, the hand of life dealing me yet another needed perspective-adjusting thump to the back of the head. I’ve experienced several personal losses of late, the corresponding thumps tenderizing my scalp down to mash. I put my coffee down and looked away from the screen, out my dining room window. My sheltie, Farley, came over to rest his head on my lap. He’s a good, intuitive Dog among Dogs. At twelve years old, he probably won’t be connecting with my moods and responding in kind much longer. I gave his whitening ears an extra-long scrub, telling him how much he means to me and how much I appreciate him, to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was talking to him or my recently deceased mother or father-in-law. Maybe I was talking to the three, and a few others besides.
Farley caught sight of a squirrel through the window. The younger dog in him surfaced as it sometimes still does, and he went off to do doggy things. I went back to reading.
Near the end of HH’s goodbye to his audience, he writes, “I have to walk away from my potential. I’m forced to. I don’t like it. I’ll fight the good fight along the way but for now I have to concede. My book is done. I’ll do what it takes to get it out there. That I can do.”
Reading that paragraph, I get the impression—and I hope I am wrong—that HH might think getting his book published would be the mark of his writing success.
If that’s true HH—if you are standing with us, that group of writers waiting to be read, appreciated, and maybe even touch lives—I have news for you, my friend. You’re standing with the wrong group. You’re already there.