So many people say they have magic or synchronicity or coincidence in their life. Maybe they mention fairy dust or mermaids. I call it all God. All those wonderful moments when you know the currents of electricity or the moon or tides or whatever have aligned in your favor and everything works out. It’s a mystery; those moments, those miracles are God for me, magic for you, amazing for all.
I had a writing mentor, but he passed away a year ago last April. I was heartbroken by the loss. He was a very successful writer and poet and extremely well loved. He was the first writer that I had met that believed in my work since I had returned to writing after a twenty-year hiatus. (The story of why I didn’t write all those years is sad, and I think I have shared it here on more than one occasion).
Steve not only told me what he didn’t like about my work; he told me what he thought was good about it. He wrote essays for me to get into graduate school to study poetry (and I got into both of the schools that received his essays). I knew that he was serious about what he said about my writing because he published some of my poetry in two different publications where he worked as an editor.
Sometime after Steve’s death, I hired a writing coach to help me write my memoir. I worked with the coach for many months before deciding I wasn’t ready or didn’t want to write my memoir. I have a serious problem with motivation which is a symptom of schizophrenia that gets harder to live with over the years. I stopped scheduling appointments with my coach.
I missed having the support of a mentor, an editor, a cheerleader and a friend.
On the one year anniversary of Steve’s death, I was at AWP16, the largest writing conference in the United States. Before attending the conference, I found out that a writer who I had traveled to Flagstaff Arizona to see (at another writer’s conference), was auctioning off a package of her writing services for a year. I looked at the schedule, and there were two other things I wanted to attend (actually, I needed to attend) booked at the same time as the party where the auction was scheduled. I was devastated, but then I discovered that I could bid in advance and not be required to attend the party.
My husband and I talked about how much we could afford to pay for me to work with this writer for a year. We decided to put the absolute highest amount we thought we could afford so that I would have a better chance at winning the auction. (At that time, I didn’t know that I could contact this writer and work with her. I thought the auction was my only chance).
The day of the auction I ran into a poetry professor who knew Steve and knew how much he meant to me. I told this professor that I had tried but been unable to find someone who filled those holes and gave direction to my writing life. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I felt the tremendous loss of such an advocate, teacher, mentor, and friend.
It was the day after the anniversary of Steve’s death when I was sitting in a disability panel as a representative of writers with a mental illness when I got the text. Mine was the winning bid at the auction. I nearly screamed out my excitement in that auditorium. I let my hands go over my head and pumped the air above.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book, Big Magic; the book is about living a creative life. She writes a lot about those moments, those incidents when everything in the universe seems to be working toward a single goal that manifests itself before you, or in you, or around you.
I still miss Steve every time I write a new essay, or have an article published, but I believe in an afterlife and the continuation of spirit and energy. And I think he would have delighted in the fact that Anna and I connected. In fact, I think he arranged it.