Dear Lori

Open letter to my young publicist, by L.E. Taylor

It’s been more than a year since you first urged me to write a weekly article to post on the Internet. After the horror of realizing you were being serious I asked, “Write about what?”

You replied, “Anything that comes into your mind, anything you care about!” You’d noticed that our long bi-weekly telephone gabs always started out with a businesslike checklist of dry topics, but soon drifted into long adventures through a rabbit warren of remembrances, war stories, opinions, and irreverent wise cracks. You said whatever the main topic, whatever tidbit you might toss off, it usually reminded me of a story. You said you’ve been wanting to get me onto the lecture circuit, and that you also want me to start doing voice-overs. In fact, it was way overdue that I stop hiding out and get out there… Larry!

Much of my verbosity on the phone was sparked, of course, by our chemistry. You are a great listener and I am a ham. (But seriously, folks…) You also had another rare quality that brought out the best in me: whenever you could get a word in, it was always apt, intelligent, from your own experience, and professionally valuable.

All fine traits of a useful literary collaborator.

So today, I’m sitting here writing, as always, about something that I care about. In fact, I am shadowed by this burden of care more heavily each day; it’s my Sisyphean boulder. I could not avoid fretting away over your ordeal, Lori, if I wanted to.

Bad enough, the cancer.

Bad enough, its location.

Bad enough that your already suffering husband needs you, that your three home-schooled children are suddenly deprived of their mentor-Mom. Bad enough that the oral surgeries were destructive.

And the radiation. And now the chemo.

All of that is worse than bad enough; it is your Cross. I cannot help you carry it. I can only ask a merciful God to intervene. To ease your mortal pain. To engage with you and your family through the Holy Spirit in restorative ways that are beyond our understanding. To bless us all as we try to encourage you. Albeit, helplessly.

For the time being, Lori, I am reconciled – we can no longer talk. That is, you can’t. Which diminishes me.

So I’m accelerating my efforts as a teacher of adults who are serious about strengthening their writing skills. LT’s First Rule: Write only about what you care about.

The mentoring of those fellow-travelers focuses me greatly as a scribbler of these weekly “blog” pieces. I am often reminded that you suggested I was already weaving stories, only not in written words.

And now I am off the bench, pinch-hitting as my own publicist. Schlepping my product to reviewers and librarians and media talkers. Soon, I’ll be figuring out how to crack the code that will get me past unsympathetic gatekeepers, and into the sanctums of film producers. And I will, too.

Waiting for you to get back into the game, I will advance the score. I will listen to the voices in my head and do my best to follow through on the nascent plans that were coming clear to us. I will be ready when you return.

Who knows – we may actually see each other in person someday.