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Losing A Mentor

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of the passing of Jim Brewer…”

My body grew hot and prickly, heavy in the chair, as I read the words. The passing of Jim Brewer? It couldn’t be. I scanned through the rest of the email, trying to read while my vision blurred from the tears.

My mentor? The man who taught me that words are beautiful and who guides me every time I write a note, a contract, a blog post? That Jim Brewer? Gone?

There was a knock at my office door, so I hurried to wipe my eyes and tackle the next COVID19 issue that was flying through my day. But once I put out that small fire, my thoughts returned to Jim, well actually Mr. B. I never called him Jim, even as an adult.

Okay, God. What’s the deal here? Why on earth would you possibly decide that now is the time for this cherry on top of an already stressful time?

Time for a Reboot

I have not written in a couple of months. This is partly because I have been absolutely swamped with other aspects of life, but it’s also in part because I didn’t think I had much to say. COVI19 was starting to reveal itself and once it pounced on top of us like the beast it is, I could not muster up one positive, “cheer up gang!” kind of message. I had nothing to give to you, friends. My very being felt drained of words. I contemplated shuttering the blog and moving on. And so I wasn’t here.

Then the news of Mr. B’s passing dropped out of the sky like a falling rock tumbling off of a cliff and onto a switchback, blocking all movement. At least that is what I thought at the time, but in fact, God was trying to get me moving again. And I really needed a hand because I was not getting anywhere on my own.

While I drove home from work Jim’s words stormed my thoughts, pushing and shoving aside the lousy exhaustion of pandemic life and rebooted my mind. His lessons came forward and overrode the current operating system that I was running, with glitches and, um, viruses galore.

Words are beautiful. Discover them and make them a part of your vocabulary.

Stop using the word “very”. It is an empty modifier, Jen. Go look for the word you need.

Think, Jen. Challenge yourself. Opine.

Use humor.

Stop separating your independent clauses with a comma. Semicolons are your friends. Use them.

Losing a Mentor, Seeing the Signs and a Reset by Jen Fournier

Seeing the Signs

This litany of guidance steered me home but I was still not fully aware of the reboot being gifted. Then as I walked inside I saw a poster tube on the table. Months ago I ordered a print for my study and it had finally arrived. Opening it up, the black crisp words on the stark white mat shouted at me:

“You are a writer. . . either writing is a priority or it ceases to exist. . . write equally when you have no ideas as when you have a hundred. . . write honestly. write fearlessly. write true. but above all. . . write.”

The writer’s manifesto had arrived, on this day, this moment. Of course, it had!

The final sign came after my shower and a bite to eat for dinner. While going through a box in our home office I found the antique bread knife Jim had given me for my high school graduation from Holderness. It was, he told me, a reminder to stay sharp and to always remember where I came from.

Reboot complete.

I hear you, Jim. And now, with your knife on the shelf above my computer, print on the wall and a gentle acceptance of your official angel status, I will write.


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