I gave up trying to write a regular blog today. My mind was too filled with anger and images of the injured at the Boston Marathon Massacre. So I pulled an unused post from long ago, one that reminds of a more innocent time in my own life.
It’s been days now since I heard that my idol Anne McCaffrey died. My first reaction upon reading of her passing was a silent, internal wail, wordless, frightened, and maybe a little superstitious. The world was not supposed to end until December 2012, not now! But it must be ending. So much is going wrong, and now the Dragon Lady is gone.
My second reaction was an intense, almost visceral memory of her books. Hers were the novels I reached for first when I raced in to my favorite Waldenbooks, back in the good old days when a Waldens could be found in every mall, stuffed full of books, ceiling to floor, rack upon rack, run by book-lovers, the very air permeated with the scent of paper and ink, and redolent with fictional dreams. Her covers were perfect—her fictional world captured on the front in a still-life that told the whole tale and hinted at more. Her stories were perfect—crafted with skill and intensity and joy. Her worlds were perfect—rich and well-formed and described so that I could see and smell and taste them!
My third reaction was to remember the storylines of Restoree and The Crystal Singer and the first dragon book I ever read, Dragonquest! I still remember that first Pern book. Some years ago, I gave it to my nephew and told him to hang onto it, as it was first edition. I wonder what he did with that book?
Anne McCaffrey was the reason I first wanted to write SiFi Fantasy. As a young person, she took me away from my fears and problems and troubles. Away from a family that was falling apart. Away from bullies at school. Away from teachers who had teacher’s pets and favorites and who helped the cliques stay strong, cliques that did not involve or include me. I was a lonely and angry child and teen. I grew into adulthood and happiness and my life as a writer, partly because Anne’s characters survived things so much worse than I ever had to face. If they did it, then so could I!
My final reaction at the moment I heard of Anne’s death, was to picture her straddling a dragon’s back, as the Golden Dragon winged her to paradise. Surely she must be there, in heaven, with the great bards and artists and dreamers, prophets and disciples and … writers. Surely there must be a special mansion, built of gold for her, with plenty of room out back where her dragons can nest in the heated sand of heaven. And plenty of rooms in front where the writers she inspired can come home and rest.
That post I wrote so long ago was about death, but also about a life well lived. That is what I ask of each of us today. To live life well. To write life well. To be victors over anger and pettiness and to defeat the cowards who would seek only our destruction—to defeat them by living well and in peace. And when we write—to ride a dragon and save the world from the fiery death of hatred, cowardice, and selfish cruelty. We are better than the people who take that low road. We writers are the sky at dawn on a dragon’s wing. Let’s write it. Let’s make it so.