The Hardest Thing to Express

Recently, a dear writer pal passed away. It was sad, perhaps even sadder then it might have been had I kept in closer contact since I knew her health was challenged. But that’s how life is. We get busy, one thing more adds to the pile. We break an ankle at the largest annual writer’s conference, AWP in D.C., then when our entire world slows down, this happens.

When I first began to publish more actively in online and print journals, around 2009 and 2010, there was a community called 52/250. I just ran into one of the three editors of 52/250 in D.C. at the AWP conference, John Wentworth Chapin! It brought back so many memories of that entire year, workshopping and showcasing our work as a supportive online community, and even more, using the venue as a vehicle for experimentation, pushing writing conventions, or “rules,” or boundaries. Being willing to fail on the page (as Beckett made famous- ‘fail better!’)

Simultaneously, I was taking notice of the online journals that seemed to have pizazz, and moxie, the journals that published more edgy, experimental, or a range of writing that interested me. Among many was a site called The Nervous Breakdown, started by Brad Listi in the mid- 2000s. On a whim, after seeing the Joan Rivers documentary movie, I wrote a whimsical “review,” but not really a review, more a commentary piece about Joan. I decided to send it to The Nervous Breakdown, and although Brad was confused about what category of writing it was, he sent it to Cynthia (pictured above). She was the Arts & Entertainment Editor. She loved it, and published the piece:

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/rvaughan/2010/07/a-piece-of-work-joan-rivers/

Then, a few months later after I’d seen a rather bizarre movie called “Inception,” directed by Christopher Nolan, I wrote another strange piece called “I Had a Dream” (Thanks Mr. King), and Cynthia again loved it, despite it being a sort-of fiction/ prose poemy/ creative non-fiction piece. She published it at Nervous Breakdown:

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/rvaughan/2010/07/i-had-a-dream/

Years later, when RIFT (my last book, co-written with Kathy Fish) was selected as the Nervous Breakdown‘s Book of the Month Club (December, 2015), Cynthia sent me the most flattering congratulations “fan letter.” I was buoyed by her sweet, wonderful words and enthusiasm, and her referencing those earlier pieces she’d published in the journal.

Her work, and her words are still online here: http://cynthiahawkins.net/blog1/

Dearest Cynthia, we miss you. I MISS YOU. The world seems slightly less lovely without you here.  I will miss discussing all things cultural: movies, actors, plays, etc.

If you knew Cynthia, or are reading this and feel moved to help her family (husband, and two girls), you can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/CynthiaHawkins

In short, I’m so grateful for everything you ever gave to me, and my writing, Cynthia. I hope that in our support of one another, I gave you as much encouragement and gratitude as you have towards me. Thanks for your bright light, your laugh, and your writing and wit.

4 thoughts on “The Hardest Thing to Express

  1. Andrew Stancek

    Beautiful and sad, Robert. We move on, lose track of people and then suddenly they are no more. So many people from those days I’ve lost track of. 52/250 was so important to me. I have to write Michelle and John WC right now to tell them again. Thanks, Robert.

    Reply
    1. Robert Vaughan Post author

      Hi Andrew, thanks for your wonderful message. It was really so great to see John WC at the AWP D.C. Conference. He actually showed up for my book signing and I was really touched. It had been over 5 years since we all read at the KGB Bar for 52/250. That year was also so important for me. I appreciate you, and your words, as always.

      Reply
    1. Robert Vaughan Post author

      Dear Jayne, thanks for your sweet message. Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair. At least in this case, anyhow. I appreciate the hugs and right back at you! xo

      Reply

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