Yesterday I Came Out. Five of my very knowledgeable and astute friends accepted copies of the First Draft of The Death of the Gecko to read and critique. After writing “in the closet” for two and a half years, it was a very exhilarating and scary feeling to expose my work to other people.
Being a retired writing teacher, I provided my dear readers with a Rubric. Several readers were willing to work with a PDF version of the manuscript, and two of my readers requested hard copies. Emailing proved to be iffy for such a large file size, so I ended up putting the entire first draft of my novel up on the web as a downloadable PDF. Talk about feeling exposed! But now that it’s up there, I’m starting to think about just being open to letting anyone read the manuscript who wants to. For now, I’m not really advertising that it’s there. But it is out there! If you feel like taking a look, I’d love it! If you do download and read the manuscript, I would very much appreciate your comments!
What I am still really hoping for is that someone might visit my BLOG and make a comment. So far, no visitors… Hello? Anyone there?
Why Sorrow? A very shocking and tragic event occurred yesterday, the day of my “coming out”. One of the people who had agreed to review/critique my manuscript is my dear friend and writing mentor, Don Rothman.
Don was a Bay Area Writing Project teacher and mentor. He taught many teachers, including myself, how to teach writing. And Don is actually one of the spiritual Fathers of my novel. Here’s why: Right after I retired from teaching, I was harvesting grapes in the Santa Barbara hills at Condor’s Hope Ranch with Don, Sarah Rabkin, and other friends. While we picked grapes, we talked about Sarah’s outstanding online oral history project for UCSC on the organic farming movement. I mentioned that Farm Without Harm hadn’t been included in the stories. So, Don and Sarah encouraged me to write the story myself – the story of Farm without Harm and the parents and teachers in Watsonville who challenged conventional strawberry growers’ permits to fumigate near schools with methyl bromide. That conversation among the grape vines catalyzed the creation of my novel, The Death of the Gecko.
Don stayed in touch, with periodic encouragement, while I wrote. Yesterday, he was planning to come to my house to pick up a hard copy of the manuscript. He seemed genuinely excited about reading the novel. I was thrilled that he was willing to do a whole manuscript critique. The evening before last, he emailed me to make final arrangements for coming over the next day. Then, about an hour before he was due to arrive, I got a phone call from a tearful Robbie Gliessman of Condor’s Hope. She was calling from Don’s house, at the request of his wife, to tell me that Don had passed away in his sleep that night.
Shock. Sorrow. Don was in his 60’s. That seems too young. It’s always so hard to loose the good people. Don was an outstanding human being. So interested in Life, and in others, generous with his time and his wisdom. Brimming over with knowledge, insight, and good humor. Thank you, Don, for your friendship and mentorship. You are missed.
Such a loss takes the breath away. So hard to adjust to the fact that one so vital and present has suddenly vanished. Life is so precious and ephemeral. Every breath is sweet. What a gift to be a human being on Planet Earth, to be, as Kurt Vonnegut says, “standing up mud”, able to look around, see the sparkling water, smell the redwoods, hear the rain, touch someone you love … if only for a brief time. Such a gift. Thank you.