The past week has been difficult. Saturday, March 1, 2014, saw the death of my friend Jake Williamson. At the age of 35, Jake’s passing was sudden, unexplained, and unfathomable. Nearly 200 people crowded into Pecos Funeral Home on Friday afternoon to say goodbye to him one last time. As my hand touched his cold fingers, I couldn’t help but feel simultaneously angry and content with his passing. We had had so little time together and yet we had shared so much.
Jake was a geek like me. He loved science fiction movies, fantasy novels, and comic books. We could spend hours together watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or simply talking. Laughter followed us wherever we went. Finding a fellow nerd in the middle of a small West Texas town was such a relief for me. Finally Matt and I had someone who understood our love of Lord of the Rings and who actually wanted to go to something like Dragon Con.
When Jake found out that I wrote fantasy fiction, he begged me to let him beta read my first novel Skinshifter. I turned the manuscript over to him on a Wednesday and had his corrections back by Sunday. He had read the book in four days! When I asked him about the fast turnaround, he apologized that he would have had it finished in three, but a massive headache had stopped his reading. For a writer used to receiving short story manuscripts weeks or months later, getting corrections on a full novel in mere days was astounding. Even more incredible was the praise that the well-read fantasy buff lavished on the book. Jake handed Skinshifter back to me and exclaimed proudly that I wrote like R.A. Salvatore.
Jake was so excited that I had shared a bit of my heart with him in the form of my fiction writing. He was one of the first people to see the manuscript for “Elza and Eliza” and one of the first that I told about my work on Musings. He even encouraged me by telling me: “Stand strong, little werecat, and be proud of your fur.” Such a reference to Skinshifter’s main character Katja warms the core of my soul.
I haven’t written in the week since Jake’s death. Caring for his family in the depths of grief left little capacity to do anything else. Now that the dust has partially settled from this horrendous storm of life; however, I feel myself staring at my computer screen with purpose once again. Just weeks ago, Jake was bugging me about my writing.
“When are you going to be finished with Dreamdrifter, Alycia?” he had asked. “You can’t just leave Katja hanging. Hurry up! I want to read it as soon as you’re done!”
It is friends and fans like Jake that remind me of why I write. I write because it is the best way I know to encourage and entertain others. Writing is my best personal source of liberation. It gives me the time and the tools to precisely delve into the mire of my emotions and unearth the seed of truth at their core—to meet God directly on the page. Because my writing is so personal, I feel it is too powerful not to be shared. It seemed that Jake agreed.
When I was house-sitting for his parents this week, Jake’s mom handed me a plain black folder. I opened it to discover Jake’s copy of my “Elza and Eliza” manuscript tucked between its covers. Even in death, Jake had found a way to share the work that I had first shared with him.
Okay, Jake, I’m listening. I realize that while your work on earth is finished, my own is just beginning. I’ll continue writing Dreamdrifter today. I don’t know if God will let you read the rest of Katja’s story while perched on a cloud over my shoulder, but I’ll do my best to finish it soon so that the possibility exists at least. Thank you for the encouragement, Bud. I love you.
Until our next meeting, I will strive to rewrite the world for the better!
The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!