Friday, August 9, 2019

My Heart (and Eyes) Runneth Over

So much has happened in this last week, so much I want to say. Each topic could take an entire post, and I planned that. But this I need to say right now.

I just found out that one of my writing mentors, Eric Trant, died last June.

My heart is broken and the tears come and go. I knew I hadn't seen him around in a while, but I was on a Facebook hiatus for a year or more and what's a year amongst friends? A lot, apparently. I happened to notice it was his birthday in April. Even posted a birthday greeting on his wall, not knowing. What an idiot I am.

Eric was an early beta reader for Awen Rising. He always gave back, though he was crazy-busy with his job, a wife and children he adored, a blog, and writing and publishing his own books. I wanted to send him a signed copy of Awen Rising and went to his Facebook wall today to send him a message requesting his address.

Imagine my surprise as I read the posts. All the messages from his wife Amanda, and so many friends. Tears flowing, I read through them in shock, all the way back to a day or so before it happened. All the way back to Eric's posts. They were classic Eric. Silly things. Yet full of meaning. A tribute to his wife. Another to his favorite (I assume) beer.

It seems a little silly that the death of a person I knew so little could shake my world so much. But the truth is this: when I began writing That Rebel with a Blog, Eric was one of the first writers I connected with. I think because we were both from the South. He generously offered encouragement and advice. I looked forward to his posts at Digging with the Worms and to his wise comments on mine. Eric's wit could cut, but his heart bled out into every word he ever wrote.

That is what is so powerful about Eric Trant's work. That huge Texas heart that he let hang out without apology, or caring who saw. I learned a lot from Eric's honest, direct style. Back then we were all blogging fairly often. Eric led by example, and always had a kind word to spare.

Eric's passing leaves a hole in my writing world. For ten years, I've been looking forward to the get-together we'd planned as a group long ago. Eric. Elliot Grace. Roland Yeoman. Me. All in New Orleans for some big writing shindig, where we'd be famous Southern writers and the stars of the show.

I'd not thought about New Orleans in a very long time. But our group get-together was one of the first things that came to mind when I learned Eric was gone. Now to honor him, we'll have to have an empty table piled high with Eric's books. And a drink for him afterwards at Meliori's, where Roland's lyrical prose will protect us from the local spirits.

Now I must track down Elliot Grace, another gifted Southern writer with a silver-tongued pen. It's been longer still since I've seen Elliot around. I checked his old blog So Close, But. A sad post from March. I'll wait a while before reading that. Or maybe I should dive in, since I'm already sad. But it's good to know he's okay. I am grateful that Roland, another writing mentor, is still a rare blood courier in Lake Charles, and now has some forty-one books published.

As the last of us four Southerners to the published-author table, I'm as proud as punch to have finally made it. But the victory is less sweet without Eric.

Rest in peace, my dear friend. Your presence is missed in a world that needs all the help it can get.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell, writing as  O.J. Barré

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O.J. Barré is the author of the Awen Trilogy, a druid urban fantasy set in 2042. Steeped in current, ancient, and future history twists, Book One, Awen Rising (set in Atlanta, Georgia) debuted August 1, 2019, in both ebook and paperback. Book Two, Awen Storm, is slated for 2020. Book Three, Awen Tide, arrives in 2022.


Debra said...

Olivia, thank you for helping us know Eric. He sounds a lot like you!

O. J. Barré said...

Thank you, Debbie. I am richer and wiser for knowing Eric. And awww, how sweet are you? I've had good teachers - like you and Eric. I know I'm responding to your comment over two years later. But for some reason, I'm just seeing it today.

~ Olivia/O. J.

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