Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Here's to you!

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.


LynnRodz said...

What a wonderful way to wake up to a New Year! (Yes, it's almost 1 p.m. here, but I had a long night!) Your writing is so beautiful, and I've said it before, you should be a writer, not an agent. Or can you be both? Anyway, thank you for sharing another moment in your life and I wish you and yours a Happy New Year filled with health, joy and love! To you, Janet! Cheers!!!

KrisM said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I hope you find consolation in knowing that you helped to immortalize Mr. Gilbert's works.

You were very lucky to have witnessed such a touching moment between the grandfather and child. What I wouldn't give to race back through time and revisit the stories my grandparents and parents told me when I was young. This old man had quite a creative streak...thank you for sharing!

Happy New Year. As the Johnnie Walker print ad said in yesterday's paper, "A new year is just the beginning. Be remembered for what you do in 2014. Keep walking."

Writer of Wrongs said...

Thank you for such a heartfelt post. I'm sorry for your loss. Sometimes, there really are no words.

I also appreciate your passion for stories and your efforts to bring more of them into this world.

You truly are our champion.
Happy New Year

Lance said...

Thank you for this inspiration. Happy New Year.

Suzie F. said...

That's what it's all about.
Happy New Year to you!

RachelErin said...

I love hearing people tell kids stories. I think it's important for them to have words-only stories in their lives. My kids love it, and I'm not that great of a storyteller, although I've improved.
A note - the fabric terms are woof and warp, not woop and warf.
Happy New Year!

Susan Bonifant said...

First I was hugely relieved that this was not a sad story. Then, with the visuals you provided, I could hear it myself. Goes around. Your story telling lifted more than a few spirits today.

Darlene Underdahl said...

That was very nice.

Unknown said...

The cycle of life such a delicate balance.

Cindy C said...

A perfect inspirational post to kick off a new year. Thank you.

Kregger said...

Amen to that, sister.

Nicole Payne said...

That was wonderful. Thank you Janet and Happy New Year to you!!

Unknown said...

How remarkable. You not only listen to the sounds of the words, but also the hearts of the people.

Your clients are truly lucky to have you in their corner, believing in them and fighting for them long after the sale has been made.

You touched me today and I thank you. What a bright beginning to 2014. :-)

Michael G-G said...

Here;s to you too, Janet. I comment less than I used to when I was new to the blogosphere and spent more time being social on media than doing the writing--but I still love reading your posts and enjoying anecdotes like the one today. Storytelling (and listening) are truly two of life's greatest joys.

May 2014 be a great year for you and your talented clients.

Heidi Willis said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. It sounds as though he left behind a life well-lived and loved.

The way you love the story-tellers in life, the way you love words and people with such equal passion, is why I read this blog year after year after year. Despite your sharky exterior, you make me feel good about humanity.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for this loss. It's hard to lose anyone, but one who is so talented, much more so.

I wish I'd been able to read this yesterday. I swear I just got teary eyed at that last sentence.

Talk about tugging at my heart. Thank you, for what you do.

Unknown said...

Beautiful...I want to read that man's story.

CecilyK said...

Janet, this post was beautiful. Thank you so much. Reading your site is a joy.