Few people know this, but my mom is a pretty awesome writer. She's been published by Crossings as well as innumerable magazines and newspapers. These days she writes mostly to compete in contests, which she frequently wins. Two of her inspirational essays won her gift certificates that paid for her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners this year. You'll never read about writers like her in Publisher's Lunch, but when you're seventy years old and on a fixed income, every little contest win means a hell of a lot.
Mom also keeps in touch with her favorite authors. She's not a pest, but she does write to them about their books, and sends Christmas cards to them. I never see the letters or cards, but I'm sure she mentions my books (I try not to think about this part too much.) Nearly all of them send personal, very kind responses every time. I can't tell you how much that means to her, or to me.
I'm not as decent or regular a correspondent as my mom. I've actually lost touch with 99.9% of the authors I met when I first started in the business. Leaving all the writer orgs and groups and the con circuit eliminated the only opportunities I had to see or talk with these folks, and moving my household several times after that didn't help. Then there was always my desire not to intrude on other writers' lives. I'm not sorry I got away from the hoopla, because I wasn't any good at it, but I do miss the writers who were especially kind or friendly to me during my season in hell.
I didn't know it, but my mom has been writing for years to one of those authors I lost touch with. Last year Mom finally showed me a Christmas card she'd received in response. In it, the writer asked how I was and if I was still writing (I'd just hit the USA Today BSL a month earlier; so much for my little blip of fame.) This year the same author wrote back again to Mom, asked if I would get in touch, and sent a private e-mail address.
That's not the kind of message someone sends when they're only being polite to a sweet old lady.
So here is my chance to mend one bridge and maybe become reacquainted with an old acquaintance. I don't know what the other author expects to hear, but I'm guessing it's not what I've got to tell. It's not as if I can condense what's happened to me over the last couple of years into some cheerful anecdotes. I really dread stuff like this. But, if for no other reason than to return some of the kindness shown to my mom, I will write back. That much I owe to the author.
If you're going out tonight, please be safe and make sure you've got a designated driver for the evening. No party or celebration is worth your life.
Happy New Year, everyone.