A Quick-Tip Post For Melanie


Last week, the Magical Words community lost one of its own. Melanie Otto, known to many of you, died after a sudden and severe brain bleed that left her in a coma.

I knew Melanie for several years and was privileged to join her and and the other Roaring Writers of The Million Words blog for a week-long writing retreat. I was the instructor for the week, and Melanie and her life partner, Judy, were my contacts for the event. In the planning stages, and then during the retreat itself, they treated me like family, made me feel welcome and at home, made sure that I was comfortable in every sense.

Melanie was a talented writer and a skilled professional photographer. But more, she was a wise and kind soul, a gentle spirit with a wicked sense of humor, a generous and caring friend. I cannot begin to imagine the loss Judy is feeling right now, or the hole left in the life of Craig, Melanie’s brother. I know that I’ll miss her terribly.

I know as well, though, that Melanie wouldn’t want me to dwell on these emotions. It’s natural to grieve, but Melanie celebrated life, and she would want those of us who cared about her to do the same, even now. Especially now.

Which brings me to today’s Quick-Tip. It’s a terrible cliché, but clichés arise because on some level they convey an essential truth. As much as I would encourage you to write, to devote yourself to improving your craft and following your ambitions, today I want you to do the opposite. Put away your computer, your writing pad, your pen. Kiss the person you love — not a peck; kiss with passion. Hug your children, and then sit down with them and talk or play or sing or just watch a movie together. Call that friend you’ve been thinking about; arrange to have lunch. Not next month, but today or tomorrow. Call your parents if you’re fortunate enough to still have them around. Or call a sibling. Have a hobby you love, one to which you wish you could devote more time? Take a few hours. Today.


We lost Melanie far too abruptly. Life is a fragile thing, and love and passion are what make it worthwhile. What if writing is your passion and your love? Well, I certainly get that. Then yes, go ahead and write. But do it for the love of it, for the joy. For one day, don’t let the inner demons have their voice. Live. Love. Write. Repeat.

For Melanie.


9 comments to A Quick-Tip Post For Melanie

  • Amy Bauer

    Lovely post, David. The more I think about it, the more I think the Roaring Writers will miss her terribly. Writers tend to be a depressive lot – I’m certainly no exception. Melanie was a cheery, optimistic soul and we have lost a great friend who made us laugh constantly.

  • Alex Pendergrass

    Beautiful post, David.

  • mudepoz

    I feel the same way. Melanie and I had a special bond–that which arises out of shared medicine. What can I say? I loved her like a sister and I F*****d up when she last emailed me. It was a lovely note, I’ll value forever, however I just bitched about how I felt. I wish I’d said something about how wonderful she was. Who knew? She left us too young and she left us without her talents.

  • Yes, Amy, I agree. I loved being with all of you at the retreat, but Melanie had a way of brightening every conversation. Thanks for the comment.

    Thank you, Alex.

    Mindy, she knew you loved her, and knowing her, I’m sure she was happy to send some happiness your way. Treasure your memories of her.

  • Melanie was that endearing mix of wise and wicked, and a pillar of our group. Aside from Mud, she was one of the first writers I met live and in person, and it was impossible not to respond in kind to her energy and enthusiasm. Judy said Melanie left this world, chasing the light. And that sums her up perfectly.

  • Thank you, David. This was beautiful. All I can think of when I think of Melanie was her laugh, and the knowing, amused look that would cross her face anytime she found something funny. It was a pointed, infectious humour and it will be missed.

  • Janet, yes. Beautifully said. Thanks so much for the comment.

    Thank you, Laura. And yes, that smile, that laugh. We’re all going to miss her.