This was going to be my blog post about Dragon Con, but every time I sat down to write it, all I could think of was Ann Crispin’s recent passing.
Which is so fitting, actually.
I attended Ann’s Beginners Writing Workshop at Dragon Con 2000 and her Advanced Writers Workshop a couple years after. Ann’s first workshop was the spur that got me writing professionally; it gave me the impetus to take my writing seriously, to focus on honing my craft in order to become the best writer I could be and a published professional in the industry.
One of my writers groups, the DC2K Writers–the group I am closest to, filled with people I consider some of my dearest friends–was formed from that first writers workshop. When Ann was still well enough, we’d all get together for dinner on Sunday evening at Dragon Con to catch up, talk shop, celebrate our writerly achievements, commiserate on our disappointments, and encourage and support each others’ endeavors. And I always felt re-energized and re-motivated afterward. It was the one thing I never, ever missed at Dragon Con, no matter how congested my schedule or pressing my convention obligations were.
Fitting also, that I learned Ann had entered hospice while at Dragon Con this year. I broke down when I heard it from one of my DC2K friends in the Daily Dragon office–and I hate falling apart in public. But in the company of those who also love Ann, who understand what a treasure she is and has been to all of us, it was okay, didn’t matter that they witnessed my tears.
And Ann was truly a treasure. She was a champion to writers everywhere with her work with Writers Beware and a thoughtful and caring mentor. But most of all, she was a dear friend. She knew when I needed encouragement and warm support and gave it unstintingly. I remember how loudly she cheered at the Nebula Awards banquet when they announced I’d won. And the ringing pride in her voice when she introduced me and my fellow DC2Kers as “her students.” But she also knew when I needed stern words to jolt me out of a rut, phoning me at home to check on me when I was at a low point in my novel progress and giving me a gentle dressing down to prod me back on track.
Ann hadn’t been well enough to attend these past couple Dragon Cons. This year, we raised a toast to her in absentia Sunday at dinner–each of us touched and influenced so indelibly by her, each of us with our unique memories and reminiscences of our time with her–united in saying: “Thank you. You are greatly missed.”
Ann was an inspiration, and her passing leaves a shadow over my heart, an ache of absence and loss. I remember Ann with tears and a smile, and cherish her memory with both.