Everyone has those people that they meet who have a profound effect on their lives, changing the course ever so slightly (or, in some cases, dramatically). They pop into lives, mix things up, then disappear, leaving better people in their wake. Writers are no exception.
Throughout my life, I have met a handful of people who have heavily influenced my writing career. They have changed the way I write, the way I think about writing, how often I write. They have challenged me to become a better writer, to push myself, to write even when I don't want to, to believe in myself as a writer. If not for those few people, I would not be the writer I am today.
Which might not be saying much now, but they have shaped me and put me on a path to someday achieve greatness.
I am losing two of those people this summer.
I suppose "losing" is a bit overdramatic. They are both moving away. I know with the internet, physical distance isn't the same as it once was. But still. I will miss seeing their smiling faces.
This post is for them.
Jessi - my writing buddy. Which is an understatement. She is the writing buddy. Always willing to meet to write no matter what mood either of us are in, always motivates me to write even when I'm not in the mood to, and she holds me to our scheduled writing meetings. Because of her, I have gotten so much writing done this year. She's been a muse - a sounding board for my ideas, and often helps me resolve plot problems when I get stuck. She's been my constant companion during National Novel Writing Month, and without her support I never would have made it through Nanowrimo last year, when I was writing the most difficult thing I had ever written: real life. She's the perfect writing buddy, really. She completely understands the way my mind works. We can sit without speaking, just writing, or we can talk for hours about it. And in the middle of a conversation, if a mind wanders off and misses part of it, the other just smiles knowingly and laughs instead of being offended. She's always ready with a cup of coffee (or chai!) and a hug. I love our Sunday mornings at Panera, and I'm going to miss those terribly. Someday I hope to join her in Seattle, where we can meet at Starbucks and write every weekend.
Ted - the Boss. He really is. He is the ultimate Municipal Liaison for Nanowrimo. We struggled for years to get our small writing group off the ground, and he took charge when there was nobody else. He knows just what to say or do to get people to write, whether it's threats or challenges or insults or comforting words. He's always been there for me, driving me to write more, to write better. I trust his feedback on my writing more than anyone else. He forces me to throw more obstacles at my characters, he pushes me to go with the twist that nobody expects, and he challenges me to write outside my comfort zone. I have improved as a writer a great deal under his tutelage. Without his encouragement, I never would have been ML for Nanowrimo (and some years I might not have even finished). I am still not sure how I am going to run the group in his absence, or hold Nanowrimo together without him.
I know this is not goodbye. Not for either of them. But they've taught me what they can, they've played their roles in shaping me as a writer, and now I have to do it without relying on them. Without a net. Taking off the training wheels. Jessi will always be The Writing Buddy and Ted will always be The Boss, and they will both always be my friends, but there won't be any more Sunday mornings at Panera, ML strategy meetings, or writing group meetings at Mirth with them.
Best of luck to both of you in your new lives! Don't forget about me. I'll never forget about you. There will be book dedications to you in the future.