In the days following the 9/11 attacks, I remember how people all over the world came together to offer their solace and sorrow. On the streets of San Francisco, where I lived at the time, people walked more slowly. We made eye contact in a way I'd never experienced before within the City. We found ways to share our grief and concern for one another, as well as for our country.
Throughout the day, air traffic controllers worked hard to ground the planes in the air. Thirty-eight planes were diverted to Newfoundland. Some 7,000 passengers, pilots, and a few animals were stuck in the middle of "nowhere." Selflessly the people of Gander and surrounding communities rallied to take everyone in and care for them until they could leave four days later.
Inspired by the people of Newfoundland, one of the passengers, Kevin Teurff, created Pay It Forward 9.11. This movement aims to perform three random acts of kindness for strangers on, of course, September 11th. My wife and I have anonymously participated for many years. Sometimes, we gave strangers gift cards; sometimes, we paid veterinarian bills for those who fell behind, sometimes we gave cash, sometimes we bought a cup of coffee. The message? In honor of those who died on 9/11 and in tribute to those who took in 7,000 strangers without question or limit.
We must remember the kindness the people of Newfoundland gave Americans and other world travelers that day. We must because we can't let the darkness win, especially today when so many of us feel hopeless in our divided world. We must feed the humanity not only in each other but in ourselves. We must not give up.
During August, I participated in a fundraiser for a Washington-based poetry lab that involved writing a spontaneous poem on a postcard, sending it into the world every day of the month. I received postcards, too, and many contained not only original poems but amazing handmade postcards.
My postcard was a photo of Walker-girl peaking through a coyote fence looking for the chickens who live on the other side. I have nine postcards left. Click on the button below and send me your name and snail mail address if you want one. The first nine requests will get the postcard and a spontaneous poem, too.
The last few weeks have been spent on “final” edits on the novel. “Final” is in quotes because there may be more edits to make once I find a willing agent or publisher.
Also, I’ve been working on the business side of the novel—researching agents to query and writing synopses of varying lengths. It’s obviously important to know what an agent likes to read, ay? Heaven forbid you send a character-driven drama to someone who wants comedy or a story set in a fantasy world to someone who’s looking for contemporary fiction. I’ve been scouring Publishers MarketPlace and other sources and inputting candidates for querying into a spreadsheet.
The bane of every writer I know (including me) is writing a synopsis of your story. How do you distill a novel of some 90,000 words into 5,000 or 500 or 250? It’s overwhelming and wrenching at first. You must let go of all the themes and details and follow the main character(s) journey. And you have to give up the ending. You can’t be coy in the synopsis.
Every agent wants something different. Some want a long synopsis. Some want 300 words. Some (bless you) want only the first three chapters of the novel.
Here's hoping the novel and I find the right agent who will take me on and help the story into the world. Let the querying begin!
Stay kind and curious about the world, my friends! Thank you for reading. Sending you much love,—JD
My stories explore loss, grief, interconnectedness, and how—or if—we come back together after we've been driven apart. I'm deeply interested in life in all its forms (human, animal, feathered, not), concerned about our humanity and survival.—JD Eames
1704 Llano St, Ste B-1483 Santa Fe, NM 87505 United States
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