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Just Published: “David, Just as he was,” White Crane, Summer 2007

White Crane, Summer 2007

Originally uploaded by freerangelibrarian

The summer 2007 issue of White Crane arrived Friday afternoon, two days before my 50th birthday, and there could have been no better birthday present. In this issue is my first “literary” publishing effort, “David, Just as he was,” a portrait of my friend David Hummel, who died of AIDS in 1987, about a decade after we met in San Francisco while working on BACABI, the Bay Area Campaign against the Briggs Initiative.

White Crane is a lovely publication, and everything I read in this issue was powerful and true, but a magazine devoted to “gay wisdom and culture” is necessarily a modest publishing effort, not anywhere like announcing a megabucks book deal. Still, this is huge to me, not the least because I set a goal a few years back to be writing again “by 50,” and I’ve made that goal. I still have fat thighs, a tendency toward withering sarcasm, and an allergy to housework, but then again, I didn’t commit myself to fixing any of those problems (only the sarcasm needs to be tamed; the thighs can be hidden with flowing skirts, and the housework–well, I’d rather be writing, and Sandy, bless her, doesn’t care either).

Under the magazine is my little friend RPOD: the Red Pen of Death, a fine-point Paper Mate felt-tip pen. I have an army of RPOD clones in various pockets and writing jars, because real writing begins with the first revision. RPOD also stands in for a lot of people who helped me write this essay, from my writing buddies at the University of San Francisco, to writing instructors Lowell Cohn and Lisa Harper, and finally, Lisa, my local writing buddy (together we are the Greater Leon County Literary Writing Circle, or whatever name we pick this month), whose one bit of advice was “put THIS paragraph THERE,” and that was absolutely the right thing to do.

Once I followed Lisa’s advice, the essay was finished–except for the submission process. Usually, I send an essay out (duly noting where and when in a spreadsheet) and a deafening silence follows, with a few publications being kind enough to reject me quickly, some kind enough to reject me slowly, and others not responding at all. “The Outlaw Bride,” which I consider better than most of my writing, has had eleven submissions and eight rejections, with two MIA’s (one submission is only a couple of weeks old). My rule is to send two submissions out for every rejection, and I’m currently four submissions behind.

For this essay, it was just a weird confluence: I submitted to one publication, it was accepted less than 24 hours later. It just happened to be a perfect match for an issue about friendship. I honestly believe this essay belongs here, in this journal, in this issue. Trust me, that’s not the usual process, and I don’t anticipate repeating it.

Again, making this much fuss over my debut in a well-regarded but admittedly small publication may seem like overkill–like the year Sandy was asked to “keynote” at the preschool Bible study graduation (she threatened to begin her speech by saying, “Barney is DEAD, get over it!”). But like the difference between major and minor surgery, this event is important because it’s happening to me. Having two more essays in the pipeline helps, but even if I didn’t–this is something, and it’s something good.

It does not hurt at all that this essay is my way of making partial amends to David for those years after I left San Francisco when I did not try to reach out to him and find out how he was.

So it’s on to one more hour of writing this afternoon, the last few hours of the first half-century of my life, to celebrate!

Posted on this day, other years:

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  1. Mark wrote:

    Congrats, and Happy Birthday!

    Sunday, September 2, 2007 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  2. Miriam B. wrote:

    Mazeltov! Also Happy Birthday!

    Sunday, September 2, 2007 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  3. Thanks, folks! Miriam… good hearing from you!

    Sunday, September 2, 2007 at 1:23 pm | Permalink
  4. GraceAnne wrote:

    Joy for the birthday. Joy for the publication. Joy for life.

    And if you can, hire a housekeeper. Doing so has saved my household.

    Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 7:44 am | Permalink
  5. Debi wrote:

    As Dr. Seuss said in the too-quoted “Oh the Places You’ll Go:”

    And will you succeed?
    Yes indeed, yes indeed!
    Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!

    When there’s a combination of persistence and talent, it’s hard to imagine not making it. I never wondered whether or not you’d get published. Congratulations! Buy a few extra copies for the vault!

    Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  6. Laura wrote:

    Congratulations! There’s no feeling quite like that of seeing your own words in print. And happy birthday, too!

    Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  7. As Elie Wiesel said, “I write to understand as much to be understood.” Cheers to finding both. On a more personal note, I second Laura’s comment. There is nothing quite like seeing your words in print. One wishes to build a mental, glowing shring around that memory to preserve it forever. What a lovely birthday present. Best of luck in your continued writing efforts.

    Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  8. Genny wrote:

    Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to yew, happy birthday dear evergreen Karen, happy birthday to you :)

    Wednesday, September 5, 2007 at 12:25 am | Permalink
  9. Thanks m’dear! I need to write up the denouement of the cat door… it gets better.

    Wednesday, September 5, 2007 at 7:48 am | Permalink
  10. kate wrote:

    coming a little late to the party to say hooray for you!! happy birthday and happy publishing! yay!

    Saturday, September 8, 2007 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  11. Kate, hooray back at you for your nuptials!

    Sunday, September 9, 2007 at 7:18 am | Permalink
  12. Dan wrote:

    Hey there K.G.
    I’m Dan from White Crane.
    Can I just add — belatedly because I just found this blog post — how happy we were to publish your fine essay. It was accepted quickly because it was a stunning piece of work.
    Yeah, we’re a small lil’ publication o’ love but we’ve got a rabidly fierce subscriber-base that loves good writing. You added to the delight in that issue. You’re right too — it belonged there. Absolutely.
    Keep writing and keep that little red pen flowing…it’s resulting in the creation of beauty and truth. And we certainly need more of that in this world.
    dan vera
    white crane journal

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
  13. Dan, thank you. My face turned bright red with pride when I read your comment. Might I add that (no doubt along with many other readers) I adored the last issue of White Crane, particularly (not surprisingly!) the Gertrude/Alice piece. (There is probably a parlor game that could be, “Would you rather be Gertrude or Alice?”)

    My friend Marie reminded me I hadn’t sent a copy of the essay to David’s brother, so expect print correspondence from me shortly!

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:24 am | Permalink
  14. Nancy Mann wrote:

    Sorry to comment a year late, but with the No On 8 vote coming up in California today, I went Googling for BACABI. Back in ’78 when I was in college, I did the only actual political work (besides ranting in Washington Post comments) I’ve ever done volunteering to type letters and so on Sundays in the BACABI office. I handed out pamphletts twice (as an individual, not in a group) and I helped out at the coat check fundraiser at the Hooker’s Ball on Halloween (I was dressed in ’40′s used clothes with a squashed hat and seamed stockings; somebody decided I was Agnes Gooch from Auntie Mame and it stuck).

    I was very tickled to see in the page from “The Mayor of Castro Street” that popped up that BACABI was a wildly leftist group. Who knew?! I remember when I took the street car there on election night–after the Prop 6 went down in flames–that the office only had about 20 people there celebrating.

    For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the very wonderful man who was the office manager for BACABI. Was he David?

    Frankly, I’m feeling guilty right now that I didn’t volunteer for No On Prop 8 (donated a little money, though). Now that I’m a 53-year-old working mom, it was just too hard to find the energy and the time.

    But right now, I’m in suspense, praying Prop 8 goes the way of Prop 6.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Free Range Librarian › Remembering David on World AIDS Day on Monday, December 1, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    [...] wrote about our friendship in an essay, “David, Just as He Was,” which was published in the Summer 2007 issue of White Crane, a small, elegant literary [...]

  2. Free Range Librarian › Seeing Milk on Saturday, December 20, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    [...] mind. I think every important conversation I had in my early twenties took place either while I was going door-to-door with my friend David on behalf of BACABI, the local campaign effort to defeat the Briggs Initiative, or sitting in Cafe Flore on Market [...]

  3. Free Range Librarian › One of those birthdays on Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 11:06 am

    [...] but that I had reached an important goal: to be writing again by 50. It meant so much to me to see my essay about my friend David published in White Crane–my first literary publication. Only people who have published literary writing understand the [...]

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