Yesterday was a day of contrasts. I spent the morning at the funeral service of my beloved client Richard Gilbert. It was truly laughter and tears as we remembered his work, his life, and the love he
brought to everything he did.
And when I came back to the office I spent time talking with a client about the birth pangs of a novel. In a year the novel will be finished and published. In 50 years it will be part of an oeuvre of work celebrated by the Center for Fiction, but today it was a novel that made us gnash our fangs and rend our garments.
The woop and warf of life, beginnings and endings.
But there was a very special start to this day, a moment that gave me needed perspective.
I'd stopped at a coffee shop on the Upper West Side because I was early for the service. It was cold outside so I didn't want to sit in the park and read as I normally would do. Inside only on this chill windy morning.
I took my coffee to the best empty table and settled in. I planned to read a manuscript; I had my hand inside my bag for my trusty laptop when my attention was diverted to a the nearest occupied table.
An older man and a very young boy, maybe only three or four, were also enjoying hot beverages. Grandfather was telling grandson a story. The story involved ghosts who didn't want to scare people any more. The mother and father ghost and the grandma and grandpa ghost were mightily offended that youngster ghosts were abandoning the old ways. The story took a turn into the mechanics of how NOT to scare people that involved the makeup counter at Lord and Taylor.
It was a wonderful story and I (adept at not scaring story tellers) was very stealthy in my listening. When they were finished with the morning snack, Grandpa asked if the lad was ready to head off to Barnes and Noble. Dear Reader, I fairly swooned with joy.
As they headed out and as I packed up I was struck that I had just seen the very essence of what makes us human: our ability to tell and our ability to listen to stories. It's how we learn to be civilized, it's how we learn from those who have come before us.
In that moment I realized, yet again, how profoundly grateful I am to be allowed to work with story tellers of all stripes. Those who write non-fiction, our history; those who write memoir, our lives; those who write novels, our hopes, our fears; the ones who crack me up; the ones that break my heart; the very best of them that do both.
So, to all of you who write, no matter your level of skill and success, no matter your frustration or non with the publishing industry, thank you. Thank you from your devoted listener.