Happy 2014 everyone! And what better way to start it off than being recognized by an incredibly talented peer? The lovely Nillu Stelter nominated me for the WordPress Family Award. So many people to thank: my agent, my lawyer, my manager, my agent’s lawyer, my lawyer’s agent, my manager’s lawyer, my lawyer’s manager, the incredible electrical crews and the guy who gets me my blueberry danish every morning. Free Tibet! Okay, on a serious note, I am deeply grateful, and it reinforces the truth that when you put goodwill out into the world, it comes rushing back to you in a wave. I admire Nillu’s talent for being able to pack a novel’s worth of emotion and imagery into her short pieces, and you should absolutely check them out instead of wasting your time here listening to me pontificate on whatever bee crawled into my bonnet this morning.
Accepting the award mandates that you nominate six other bloggers you feel are deserving of the honor – people who have been welcoming and encouraging in your blogging efforts. Ironically, Nillu herself nominated several of the folks that I would have included on my list. Rather than re-nominating them, I’ll bestow upon them honorable mentions instead: Rachael Spellman, Drew Chial, Jessica West and Amira Makansi, and defer to Nillu’s excellent encapsulations. I also want to give shoutouts to two bloggers whose work and whose virtual friendships I treasure but who aren’t on WordPress so they technically don’t qualify: Ksenia Anske and Heather Archuletta. Heather’s site is a bit different from the rest as she writes about all things NASA and space exploration, and about her experiences as a “pillownaut,” i.e. a participant in NASA’s bed rest studies, which simulate the effects of low gravity on the human body over long periods of time. It’s a whole area of space science I knew nothing about until I met her on Twitter, and it’s quite fascinating. And she’s a fan of all things Star Trek as well, so, well worth your while. Ksenia you probably know about already, so no sense retreading the obvious, other than letting you know that she just began writing her literary novel Irkadura two days ago and banged out an incredible four and a half chapters in a single sitting. Something to think about the next time you’re lacking motivation.
Introductions out of the way, let’s move on to my list:
East Bay Writer – EBW merits a special place as she was the first WordPress blogger I really “connected” with when I started doing this back in 2011. Absent the magical “Freshly Pressed” designation that points a massive spotlight on you out of the gate, you really do have to do the work and crawl your way out of the anonymous cellar in what is essentially complete darkness, fumbling for a grip and swinging wildly until you catch hold. I’ll always be grateful to EBW for extending her hand and letting me know someone out there in the wilderness gave a damn.
Tania Monaco – tania2atee – I first met Tania in 1999 when we both enrolled in the “Crafting a Novel” class taught by the next person down on my list, and we were part of a critique group that grew out of that class and continued for several years. Her feedback helped to shape the novel I tinkered with for way too long before finally growing the spine needed to submit it to agents (ongoing as we type), and I’ll never forget one comment in particular she made that was manna for a man trying to write a book from a woman’s perspective: “How do you know what we’re thinking?” Tania blogs about parenting her two young children and her posts about favorite songs are always a treat.
Lynda Simmons – I Love a Parade – My first creative writing teacher (at least, the first who wasn’t also trying to teach me to write essays about long-dead English novelists), a family friend from way back, and a by turns witty and poignant novelist whose book Island Girl is a rending story about a woman struggling to put her family back together before the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease claim her memory and indeed her very soul. The woman who told me to my chagrin to ditch the 400,000-words-and-counting pile of rambles that wasn’t going anywhere and start something fresh and new. Everything that followed is essentially her fault, so address your angry comments to the address in the link. Just kidding. Thank you Lynda, for so much.
Andrea Montgomery – My Simple Desires – Andrea doesn’t blog nearly enough, so my ulterior motive in nominating her is to try and give her a little nudge of inspiration. She again is someone I have the fortune to know personally, and to envy from time to time since writing is her day job, as a communications professional. There is a joyful touch to her blog posts which I’m finding myself missing, so, here’s hoping she gets back to it soon.
Tele Aadsen – Hooked – One woman at sea, trolling for truth, and what a beautiful journey it is. Like EBW, Tele was one of my first “blog friends” on WordPress and it has been a privilege to read this amazing woman’s words these past years. Taking a sabbatical from her career in fishing off the Alaskan coast, she is currently in a writer’s residency at the North Cascades Institute in Washington and working on her memoir, also entitled Hooked, to be published by Riverhead Books. Cannot wait to hold a signed copy of that in my hands. Reading Tele’s posts or seeing her comments on my own site are like a chat with an old friend, the kind with whom you can pick up like it’s only been a day even though months and months have passed.
And finally, the sixth blog on my list: yours. Yes, yours. You, reading this right now – not the person next to you, you there. Maybe I’ve stopped by yours in the past, maybe I haven’t. But the fact that you’re doing it makes you a part of a family you may not even know you had. You’re part of a tradition dating back to the first scratches on cave walls and extending far beyond the limits of our mortal shells. We’re the reason our species has a history to remember, and dreams of the future to pursue. We are writers, and whether we are read by millions or only a select few, we are each leaving our imprint upon a complex universe that is often difficult to understand. Each book, each article, each post, even each thoughtful Twitter musing is a small step towards solving the greatest puzzle of all. What does it mean to be us? Choosing to enter into that conversation earns you a place at the table. Welcome, friend; pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink and tell me a story. Tell me what you think of mine. And let’s create a new one together – as a family.