I was adrift, alone. After college, my life had somehow turned into a blur of wake, work, eat, and sleep. Sometimes I wondered if I might be stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. I hadn’t yet found the community that I have often written of as so important. Even though I was working editorial for Addison Wesley/Benjamin Cummings, I had no connection to the fiction-writing community—not for fantasy and SF where my heart lay. I didn’t even know a genre community existed.
My favorite place to break the parade of endless days was a little hole-in-the wall mom-and-pop SF/F bookstore on El Camino in Palo Alto. I used to drop in and talk to the owner. It gave me a tenuous but much treasured connection into the genre world. One day, the subject of writers groups came up. Turned out, she knew a customer… I was so excited to have hope of getting involved in anything writing. It had been years since I’d had that at college. In those pre-Internet days, I left her my phone number and prayed that her customer would use it.
Looking back, I now see that moment was the linchpin in my genre life. Without her I wouldn’t have met the friends who fill my life and make up my community almost entirely. Had she not chosen to dial the phone number of a young woman loitering in bookstore and bugging the hapless proprietor, I would not be posting this here today.
Her name was Tina, and she opened her heart, her world, and her toolbox to me. I am sad to say, she only graced my life a few short years before she died, but I’ve never forgotten. So today, I honor her by opening up my toolbox to you. I have a lot I want to share after 35 years of editing and writing, so in Tina’s honor, I have put together this series, The Writer’s Toolbox. In each of these blogs, I will take out one tool and share it with you. I will tell you why I like this tool and how I use it. Maybe you will be able to find a use for it, too, and tuck it into your writer’s toolbox.
Here’s to you,Tina.
Next in The Writer’s Toolbox: There’s Got to Be a Better Way