Pax Tecum 2015

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with the Internet. It has become a necessary tool for writing and interacting with readers and other authors, but I’m often distressed by the way people use the power of the Internet to be mean and nasty to others. This week, I was reminded of the good that comes from this invisible thing linking so many of us.

Earlier this week, I received a gift that brought tears to my eyes when I opened it – miniature hand-drawn reproductions of each of my novels with first and last lines written in each. This gift was from Lisa, a reader who has become an online friend. Lisa lives in Toronto and we met in the most serendipitous way when she won one of my novels in a giveaway on the Women and Words blog when I guest-blogged a few years ago. She took the time to write me after she’d read the book to tell me how much she enjoyed it. We’ve been e-mail friends ever since.

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More recently, she’s become a trusted beta reader whose attention to detail astonishes me. She’s a doctoral candidate working on her dissertation, and she’s going to be brilliant in her field.

A few days later, I received another gift, this time from a reader and new online friend from London, Lorraine. She sent me a pair of mugs with images of my book covers – another incredibly thoughtful gift.

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I’ve never met either of these women in person, but I hope I will someday. Their gifts reminded me of a few things – that this world has become much smaller and more intimate thanks to the ability to connect across thousands of miles. They remind me that for all of us, words still have the power to move people and that I am incredibly blessed that my books have connected with readers in a way that prompts them to think of me so kindly. But I have a feeling they’re just really nice people I’m lucky enough to have crossed paths with.

This is a season of introspection anyhow, but these gifts, so unexpected and heartfelt, have prompted more introspection than usual. In a year when our small world of lesbian fiction has lost too many – Sheila Connolly, Cate Culpepper, Nene Adams and Sandra Moran among them – it would be easy to see the world as emptier. Acts of kindness help to fill the void they left – things made and done by small hands – hands that won’t be idle with despair – doing what they can to make the world a better place.

I’ve shared a couple of links to more songs I love. Turn the lights down and listen. I hope you enjoy them, too.

Wishing you all a peaceful end to 2015, surrounded by friends and family, and a healthy, happy 2016.

Pax

 

 

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In Their Own Time

As I wrote and posted my last blog entry, the lesbian fiction world was rocked by the announcement of Sandra Moran’s cancer diagnosis. On the morning of 8 November, we woke to an emptier world – one without her in it. She passed away just four weeks after being diagnosed.

In the aftermath of that news, all kinds of blog and Facebook posts were written, eulogizing her and testifying to the positive impact she’d had on the world. I didn’t know Sandra well, but I still felt the loss. Though I felt it, words wouldn’t come. I really couldn’t think of anything substantive to add to all the other eloquent posts out there, nothing that would ease our sense of sadness at her passing. I didn’t really feel like writing much of anything.

So I waited. I knew words would come when they were ready.

A week ago on Thanksgiving, when we got home from sharing a meal with my sister and her family, Beth and I went for a walk. An after-dinner walk has always been a tradition, kind of shakes the food down into your legs to make room for pie. At least, that’s what I thought when I was a kid.

But as we walked through our neighborhood, we reminisced. We remembered an earlier Thanksgiving walk about twenty years ago, when the house we live in now was for sale, and we walked by it with my sister and niece. It was an okay house, just kind of blah, with no landscaping and neighbors too close. We lived one block away at the time and had passed this house hundreds of times as it sat on the market for over a year. But that day, we looked at it and saw it with fresh eyes. Twenty years later, it’s transformed – inside and out. It’s home now.

I guess I tend not to move quickly on things. At least, when I have in the past, it hasn’t worked out so well. My first relationship was kind of infatuation-at-first-sight. Now, I am a romantic at heart, and I totally believe love-at-first-sight can last, but it didn’t for me. When Beth and I met, we were both healing from past relationships and had a real fear of repeating past mistakes. So we were content to be friends. It took me a year and a half to realize something had shifted, and I suddenly saw her with new eyes. I know… I’m a bit slow. But taking the time to get to know each other without the pressure of an immediate romantic entanglement has worked. It’s been twenty-three years and will last forever.

What I’ve come to realize as I’ve grown older and maybe a bit wiser, is that things really do happen in their own time. You can’t force them, and if you try, it rarely works out. I know… I’m a bit slow on that part as well.

I absolutely believe that Sandra is in a place of light and beauty. As much as we’ll miss her and all those who have gone on while we stay here, their passing helps us to remember to see what’s in front of us, to see with new eyes, to recognize when the world has shifted.  I believe that this, too, happens in its own time. Maybe someday we’ll know why.