She Expresses Gratitude to Her Writers' Group

Published on by Lisa Gates.

That we accomplish anything whatsoever without the support of our friends and families and colleagues and even the random kind stranger is a particularly American delusion.  Whenever I read a book, which is often, I always read the acknowledgements because I want to know how someone accomplished the extraordinary thing I have wanted to accomplish all of my life ~ write and publish a book.

Now that I have, it is not enough for me to allow my acknowledgements to languish inside the book.  My gratitude requires a bit of shouting and so I am laying it forth here and elsewhere in the blogosphere that has treated me and all my adventures so kindly.

As Joseph Campbell wrote, when you reach a certain age and look back over your lifetime,

it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot? Schopenhauer suggests that just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so, too, your whole life is composed by the will within you. And just as people whom you will have met apparently by mere chance became leading agents in the structuring of your life, so, too, will you have served unknowingly as an agent, giving meaning to the lives of others. The whole thing gears together like one big symphony, with everything unconsciously structuring everything else. And Schopenhauer concludes that it is as though our lives were the features of the one great dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream, too; so that everything links to everything else, moved by the one will to life which is the universal will in nature.

I begin with the leading agent of this book. He is the grace note that begins the symphony of the book and its final melody. He has been the book’s biggest noodge (“how’s the book coming?”) and its most enthusiastic cheerleader. He is my husband Stephen N. Goldberg.

Stephen and I stumbled upon one another in my second decade of legal practice, each of us representing different axes of evil (petroleum and insurance) in an environmental insurance coverage dispute. Years later, love arrived, beginning my personal quest for dispute resolution that did not include cross-examination at the breakfast table. It was Stephen who gave me both the courage to write my first book and its title. I walkedinto the kitchen one sunny Southern California morning to find him, as usual, reading the early edition of the Los Angeles Times before heading off to work. I’d been blogging for a while and the thought of writing a book follows a blog like night follows day.  I think I could write an ABC’s of Conflict Resolution,” I said without bothering with any morning pleasantries.  Without a pause, Stephen responded with “A is for Asshole.”

The rest is this minor history.

Friends pre-exist, endure, and follow marriage. Truly, nothing whatsoever could be accomplished without them.

Dr. Anne LaBorde is this book’s best friend and and my soul sister. When the conversation veers into the sort of girl talk that involves how frustrating men can be, it is Anne who reminds me that Stephen is my Zen Master.  To Anne, I dedicate the letter Z.  Stephen's loving support aside, I still would never have had the courage to of any kind without the love and support of my writers’ group, a more loyal and constant group of friends than I ever imagined having. If the book is free of awkward phrases, lapses into irrelevant detail, and stultifying prose, much of the credit goes to these generous people who patiently listened to and commented on many early drafts. In the sixteen years I’ve been part of this glorious group of writers, we have all published. Some in the small literary press and collections of short fiction (Birute Serota); some in hauntingly beautiful and deeply felt memoirs (Rita Williams and Jackie Gorman);in an award winning novella that could make Faulkner weep (Emmy-award winning lyricist, Kathleen Wakefield); and teacher, actor and writer Russel Lundy whose WWII novel has not been published only because he cannot seem to let it go.Jan Bramlett, who introduced me to this extraordinary group of people has since left town to perform her lyric work with her voice and her guitar.  

To all of these generous and talented people, I dedicate the letter “C” which stands not only for Coward, but also for Courage.  

My essay on the joys of being in a writers group can be found in the back issues of the Journal of Southern New Hampshire University, Yeah, we're her writers' group.   

Published on by Lisa Gates.