Those of you who saw my blog or G. Younger's yesterday know that the SOL community has lost one of its best.
BlackIrish passed away in late April.
I know Bill worked with a number of writers on the site but I wanted to say a little about him here for those that didn't get the opportunity.
Bill was an _editor._ He wasn't the best at proofreading copy and he wasn't the best at rewriting sections. But he was fantastic at seeing the big picture of a story and keeping me focused on the narrow path.
I have hundreds of pages of notes from Bill in my files: plot suggestions, character development ideas, logic flaws he'd spotted (that I had missed dozens of times during my passes through a story).
I have mentioned this before in my blog but it bears repeating here. Several years ago, I wrote seven chapters of a story I intended as a follow-up to an earlier story I'd written.
Then I stopped and dropped the story. It sat, without update, for years while I wrote "Daze in the Valley" and several other stories. I liked the premise of the story I'd started but I had no idea where to go next.
Writing and researching "Daze" took a lot out of me. The subject matter was often off-putting. I conducted informal, online interviews with performers that often made me sick to my stomach as they told me about some of the things they'd seen or done while involved in the adult industry.
Writing 1,500 pages of dialogue was far more arduous than 150 or 200 pages. Keeping a dozen or more characters in my head for years was far more difficult than holding onto five or six for a few weeks. Formatting and posting 150 chapters over 18 months was a lot more work than formatting 10 or 15 chapters over a month. I was ready to return my hobby of fiction writing to the workshop and keep it private or return to the far shorter stories that I wrote early in my time on SOL.
Bill had volunteered to help me out on the latter portion of "Daze" and he did a fantastic job with the story. So I sent him the seven chapters I'd written, mostly to see if he thought it worthwhile or I should retool the entire thing. I knew that if it needed completely redone … I was probably done myself.
A couple of weeks went by and then I got an email from him. He had almost 10 pages of notes with ideas about the characters, the settings, the interactions.
I read through them and thought of the possibilities he'd presented. I was excited to sit down at the keyboard. In a week, I was up to 30 chapters. I would find myself think about plot points as I was doing other things. The first seven chapters of "A Flawed Diamond" took four years to put together … the next 85 came out in about four months.
It's been that way since. Bill had a way of getting me "unstuck." He grew to know the characters as well as I did. I'm certain G. Younger would tell you the same thing.
I have never been a believer in "online friendships." I realized today that I was wrong about my assessment. Bill was a friend. We talked about our childhoods and our families; we sent hundreds of emails back and forth talking about baseball and life in general. We had running jokes that lasted for months.
Bill was a friend and I'm going to miss him.
I have tried to be effusive in my praise for all the fine people that work on the stories posted under my name. The editing crew gets little notice from the readers … and, often, little credit from the writers.
I hope that those of you who use editors and proofers will take a minute today to send your team a note to let them know just how much you appreciate what they do.
And I hope you'll take another moment to think a kind thought about my buddy Bill, his son, his brothers and sisters and his nieces and nephews.