I’m not going to lie. Announcing the sale of my first book last week was tremendous in every way. I’ve also realized I’m glad I’m doing this at 37 — I don’t know if at 25 (or whatever arbitrary age) I’d have recognized how colossally fortunate I am to have met and befriended so many amazing people in one lifetime. And in a time where we can remain virtually connected and celebrate our successes (and lament our sorrows) together. It’s a lot for one heart to hold.
I know, I’m getting mushy. And it will get worse in a minute.
I received more great news last week. “The Perils of Rosella,” my CNF piece pubbed in May by Cartridge Lit, was among their Best of the Net nominees. This piece was about the death of my (grand)father and instead of overusing metaphor, I used metaphor exclusively, pairing the months spent back home trying to help him battle lung cancer with my favorite childhood video game, Kings Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella.
I’m, of course, humbled and honored to share the nomination with so many other talented authors. If you haven’t had a chance to read these pieces — again, all inspired by the presence of video games in our culture, I encourage you to take a few minutes and visit (Seriously. “After I Heard Another White Woman at the Bar Talking About Michael Vick and the Death Penalty” by Jason McCall is one of the best poems I’ve read all year.) Don’t be fooled by the gaming premise: this mag is churning out some of the heaviest hitting short form lit around. Creator/Editor/Litentrepreneur Justin Lawrence Daugherty and Managing Editor Joel Hans are developing this project from their hearts into a serious contender.
The painful twist here is that his belief in me was unconditional and ever present. In fact my very first terrible book I wrote at 9 was dedicated to him. If he were here, he’d be buying champagne. If he were here he’d tell me the bitter comes with the sweet. If he were here. If. If. If.
If he were here he’d tell me to remember Kipling: “If you can dream — and not make dreams your master.”
But here’s another if: would I be the same me without that specific loss? Zell and “Perils” and countless other works would not be the same. He continues to be here — shaping things via the person I’ve become over time. For this too, I am grateful.