Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Policy of Truth

It has been a very long time since last I shared my whispers, and I have been remiss in my duties as a blogger, but then I never promised regular or frequent posts. I have the best intentions, but don’t frankly think I have enough interesting things to say to post regularly. I have come to a point in my life and career as an editor and author (such as it is) that I despise the puffy-puffy egoed, backslapping sycophantic circle-jerking throngs of “authors” (or perhaps I should say “writers,” as not all of them have talent enough to be called authors) who haunt the interwebs congratulating and singing the praises of each other and making self-serving blogs touting their own alleged talent. “If you LIKE my Facebook author page I’ll LIKE yours.”  “If you rate my book 5 stars I’ll rate yours 5 stars.” I’ve seen these posts. It sickens me. This whole self-publishing e-pub business is a blight upon true publishing and has glutted the market with sub-literate vomitous crap. I’m both embarrassed and ashamed for those “authors,” and want nothing less than to be in any way associated with them.

So, I’ll blog when I have something of interest to share, but never to just blow my own horn and stroke my own ego. I am also going to be more careful about stroking the egos of others, as I have inadvertently helped to create monsters by doing so and don’t want to have to carry such a heavy burden on my conscience.

Now that I’ve set such a cheery tone, let me get to the meat of this post; to report the passing of an old editor, mentor and friend of mine, Mr. Lynn Willis, formerly of Chaosium Inc. I had the pleasure of working for and with Lynn for many years, and while he could be difficult at times, he was a damn fine editor from whom I learned a great deal. Lynn was exceptionally intelligent to the point of sometimes coming across as obtuse to many of us. His train of thought was sometimes hard to follow, and comments sometimes seemed to come out of left field. But in the end Lynn was just about always right, and his editorial direction and kneading made my work better. Ultimately -- and possibly through osmosis -- I became a better writer because of Lynn.

Lynn was not one for conventions and appearances, preferring to stay at the offices in Oakland and let the others go out and interact with the public. He did attend NecronomiCon, but that was a much smaller and more literate convention. Lynn and I had conversed for years via mail (back in the days before electronic mail) and by phone, but I still didn’t know exactly what to expect of him when we finally met in person, and I was rather apprehensive for some reason. We met for the first time when I visited the Chaosium offices around 1990. I found him witty and understatedly funny and instantly took a liking to him. There was a heretofore unexpected warmth and charm to the man. When we met up again some years later in New England at one of the NecronomiCons I once again enjoyed Lynn’s company and wit, and the stories he shared over a meal in the hotel restaurant. 

I continued to work with Lynn for several years, and he helped bring several of my writing and editorial projects to fruition.  The longer we worked together the less I noticed his overt editorial touch, so I knew that I had developed some skill in this whole writing thing. 

Sadly, Lynn took ill and quietly retired; it was eventually announced in 2008 that he was suffering with Parkinson’s disease. I sent Lynn a few more e-mails after that but never heard back from him. I’m not even sure he got them, although I would like to think he did as they were sincere and well-wishing. I kept up with his condition through cryptic comments from the folks still at Chaosium, and thought of him often. On January 18th of this year Lynn Willis succumbed to his illness and age. The news left me heartbroken. Lynn had been one of the most influential people in my life. He had taught me so much about my beloved craft; he had been a superlative editor and mentor. He had also been my friend. I have missed him for a long time, and now he’s gone. I hope he is at peace now and that the world remembers his invaluable contribution to the industry and just the person he was. 


As for me, I’m mostly “between projects.” As I’ve mentioned often, I am a very slow writer with very limited output. I have ideas a’plenty, but getting them out of my head and onto the keyboard seems usually to elude me. So I miss a lot of books that I’m invited into because my muse is so fragile and fickle.  There are a few ideas percolating in the back of my head and maybe one day – maybe even one day soon – I’ll announce a new antho and start reading submissions. Until then I’ll just occupy myself reading from my ever-growing library and continue to contemplate writing.
On the “mundane” side of my life, I’m happy to report that after a long and bleak period of joblessness I have found my dream job as the Executive Chef at a Chinese and Indian restaurant. I am currently researching and trying out recipes (we open in the spring). Never did I think that my Certification in Gourmet Chinese Cooking would be put to any use! And I’m learning to speak Chinese, as well – something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s like a dream come true. It’s nice to get paid to do something I love, and fulfill a long-held desire (although learning Chinese is a daunting task which I’m still trying to overcome!).

So, until next time from the House of Secrets,

Enjoy the silence