A few days ago, my writing critique group lost a dear friend. Dave Thompson was a fellow writer and one of the founding members of our group. We have been together some eight years now.
Dave published his first book of stories early on—stories of his boyhood and friends. He presented those books as gifts to friends and family. Those stories highlighted his humble, honest style, strong images, and the heartfelt emotion Dave poured into everything and everyone. Over the years, he also wrote a novel and two books of poetry. His latest book, Poems for People Who Don’t Like Poetry released just a couple of months before his unexpected passing.
As in most serious writing groups, the members share what is most precious, most important, most meaningful to them in their works. And although those revelations are not always intentional, a careful read reveals the true values and the core of a person’s spirit hidden inside the lines of stories, poems, or essays.
And such is the case with Dave’s writings. He was smart, honest, kind, generous, and humble. But what lay at Dave’s core, what motivated his actions and his words, what directed the path he would take each and every day, was simply the prayer that he would do his best in the eyes of our Lord. This prayer is in every single work Dave wrote.
In the writing process, there are several stages we, as authors, must endure. There is the origination of an idea. Developing the idea. Revising the idea. And finally, letting the idea go out into the world. Some writers navigate these stages quite quickly. And I say YAY for them. But Dave and I often teased each other that although we might zoom through the origination and development of a piece of writing, both of us tended to linger….no make that: both of us tended to take up a somewhat permanent residence in the stage of revision. We both lovingly lived in that place we called Revision Land…trying over and over and over again to get that writing just right. And with each thing we wrote, we needed each other and the other members of the group to move us along to letting it go by saying, “Hey! You’re done. It’s more than good. Time to let it go, and move on.”
Without that clear directive, some of us might live in Revision Land forever--never feeling the work was quite good enough to let go. Dave worked hard at his craft. He wrote and revised and revised some more. And most of the writing he did this last year concerned life and his relationship to Christ.
Dave’s writing also reflected that he lived his real life much the same way as he lived his writing life. His words reflected his desire to do more, be better, draw closer to and stronger in his faith. His poems reflected his unwavering beliefs, his doubts of his worthiness, his need for the Lord. And his poems especially reflected the longing to keep improving himself and his service to the Lord.
Through my own grief, I have come to believe all this quite strongly. And while Dave nor the members of our group ever suspected his passing was so near, the Lord knew. He took the book of Dave’s life in His hands and closed it. I smile through tears as I imagine Dave kneeling, his head bowed, tears on his cheeks, a shy smile on his lips, and the Lord saying, “ Hey Dave! You’re done. It’s more than good. Time to let it go, and move on.”
Our writing group will miss the sweet, gentle spirit that we knew as Dave Thompson. But we draw comfort from believing the Lord has called home this faithful servant—one in whom He is well pleased.
Well done, sweet Dave. Well done.
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