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Who has Helped You on Your Journey ? #IWSG

Who has helped you along on your journey in life, blogging, or writing?
After fourteen years of blogging and the writing journey, thoughts turn often to the journey thus far. Which is why the questions for this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) seem very relevant.
 

Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn’t around anymore? Anyone you miss?

When it comes to my blogging journey, the person I miss the most and who, tragically, is not around any more, is Tina Downey.

We lost her eight years ago, but I remember her often, especially each time I’m working on my blog.
 
Tina helped my journey not just as a writer but also as a human being. Her infectious energy, unstoppable humour and relentless, defiant zeal inspired me. I know I was not the only one.
 
We spent hours chatting, Tina and I, about our various life issues, and losses. In those pre-zoom days,  most of our chats were Skype voice calls. They replenished me, and she told me they helped her on her difficult days. I planned on getting a US visa, and flying up to visit her along with other friends and family.
 
Throughout the years I knew her, she suffered from lung issues which she laughed off. She would help us coordinate the A to Z blogging challenge (we were part of the co-host team for a few years, along with Alex J Cavanaugh, the founder of IWSG)  from her hospital bed, claiming it helped distract her.
 
When Alex told me of her passing, I refused to believe it. Over weeks our group of bloggers grieved together and consoled each other. She always spoke of sunflowers in her blog posts, and in life, so for her memorial we all sent her sunflowers. One of our friends who attended the memorial told me that the church was lit with sunshine and bouquets of smile-faced blossoms.
 
Each year in April when the A to Z challenge comes along I think of her with fondness, but also the weight of memories. I still wish I had made more of an effort to visit her.
 
Tina taught me that no matter how big the challenge, you can overcome most of them with an unwillingness to quit. She fought till the end, and lived a king-sized life, making a place in all our hearts. Her passing made me think of our online lives, and the presence we will leave behind once we’re gone.
 
Along with Tina, I was blindsided recently with the news of the recent passing of Jeremy Hawkins, another friend from the A to Z blogging challenge. I’ve been on hiatus, and the news found me late–yesterday while visiting a blog.
 
Jeremy was a kind soul, and his expertise with all matters design and tech kept us going when organizing blog events. I’ll miss him, and his niceness over many, many emails exchanged over the years.
 
Like Tina and Jeremy, I’ve made many other friends through the A to Z blogging challenge, the Cherished Blogfest, the Insecure Writers Support Group. In the last fourteen years on my blog, and now on social media, I’ve received so much solace, love and wisdom from all of you, not to mention help in my publishing journey.
 
With the pandemic, the importance of the online community has increased manifold. If not for the calls, chats and other interactions online, the isolation of these times would have been harder to bear. I’ve been in touch with so many of you over the past two years–and for all that solidarity, I’m grateful.
 
I’ll be reaching out to everyone soon, once again, for help and advice on the publication of my next, THE BLUE BAR. (In case you’d like to help, please click here to be my DAISHIK–a Sanskrit word for guru and cheerleader.)
 
The awesome co-hosts for the February 2 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery! Please go and visit them, and give them the love they deserve. If you’re a writer and not part of the IWSG community yet, I absolutely encourage you to join.
 
Who has helped you along on your journey in life, blogging, or writing? Who do you miss, and why?

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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43 Comments

  • Whenever I see sunflowers, I think of Tina. 🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻
    Damyanti, you are one of the bloggers who have helped me along on my journey. Thank you for being a source of inspiration.

  • Natasha says:

    What a beautiful dedication, dear D. So many of our near and dear ones crossed over in the last two years. Like you know I have seen it up-close and personal, like you. Biggest hugs.

    It’s so good to see you back and posting. Been so long.

    I’m reminded of one of my favourite poems:

    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there. I did not die.

    ~Mary Elizabeth Frye

    Be well and let’s get on a call soon. <3 <3

  • Has it really been eight years since Tina’s passing? Oh my goodness. We’ve lost too many. And yet we’ve all been blessed having known them.

  • I still haven’t achieved much as far as blogging is concerned. I dropped it after the loss of initial enthusiasm, and because I thought whatever I was writing was mediocre at best. I picked it up again after my husband pushed me to, and said, ‘why are you even thinking that much? Just start doing what you want to do and you can figure out how to move forward as you move forward.’ And I also can’t forget my best friend’s words, ‘are you waiting for when you’ll be able to write some astounding masterpiece to think yourself qualified enough to start writing? Don’t keep chanting to yourself, ‘I want to write, I am going to write.’ Just do it.’
    To anyone else, it may not seem much, but I know how many psychological hurdles I have overcome to even initiate a blog and put a few posts out there. So thanks to those who gave me the push.

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!… I usually let my heart do the talking while my fingers do the walking… cannot think of any one person but can think of many!!.. β€œLife gives us brief moments with another, but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a lifetime, So live that your memories will be part of your happiness.” (Author Unknown)… πŸ™‚

    Until we meet again..
    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    Hi Damyanti,
    Glad to be here after so long!
    I started blogging only because of a friend, who persuaded me to write, as she felt i could do it well. I didn’t even know how to use the computer then. She helped me create an email id, and then a blog, and then she told me how to blog, and what! We are no longer in touch, but I miss her. I only wish she could see how much I have grown in my writing and how it has helped me find employment. I always hope she comes across my write ups somewhere online.

    Other than her, my bestie, Priya, and some of my dear blogging friends helped me in my blogging journey. They read my blog posts, offered constructive criticism, edited my writing that I wished to submit to publications, and, in general, indulged me, like one would a kid with big dreams. I love them all and am glad I am in constant touch with them.

  • Jemi Fraser says:

    I didn’t know either Jeremy or Tina well, but there losses have sent waves of sadness throughout the blogging/writing community.
    Sending hugs your way

  • robertcday says:

    I’m a didactic person. Sadly, there’s only me, πŸ™

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’m pretty sure you have people rooting for you, Robert πŸ™‚ .

  • My mentor in the College of Journalism who patiently nurtured me in this unfamiliar field of creative writing after my retirement. I was looking for a hobby that had nothing to do with administration or teaching business and am particularly in her debt. However everyone who has written a book I’ve read has contributed in some way including you Damyanti πŸ™‚

  • Jemima Pett says:

    That was a wonderful tribute, Damyanti, thank you. I only ‘knew’ them slightly – thanks as much to your leadership and my minioning those years ago. I’m so glad to have ‘met’ you, Vidya, Czenge, Anna and Guilie.
    I’d love to help cheerlead the Blue Bar (if it’s not too scary for me!)

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      They were both lovely, Jemima, and I really enjoyed my time working with you, Vidya, Czenge, Anna and Guilie. I’m in touch with you, Vidya and Anna, but haven’t heard from Czenge and Guilie in quite a while.

      I’ll reach out to you when the ARCs of The Blue Bar come in–this one might be a lot less dark than You Beneath Your Skin. πŸ™‚

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – that’s wonderful to read your tributes here … I was particularly fond of Tina – she was an amazing person – exactly as you’ve described her … she must have been amazing to chat to … now many have extraordinary memories of Jeremy – people can depart so suddenly … but it’s wonderful these two and others have spread their goodness around the blogosphere. Take care through 2022, and all the best with your authorship – you’re really offering us lots through the books you write. Cheers Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hi Hilary, you’re so right about the fleeting nature of life. Makes us hold our friends closer.

      Thanks so much for your kind wishes and unflagging support—you were a pillar throughout the journey of You Beneath Your Skin. I really appreciated your blog post, and review.

  • Kalpana says:

    Although I didn’t know Tina I felt I got to know her through your lovely tribute. I read about Jeremy too, on other blogs but again didn’t know him. The blogosphere is a wonderfully supportive space. I wish you luck with The Blue Bar. Happy IWSG day.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Both Tina and Jeremy were good friends and stalwarts in the blogging community.

      Thanks so much for the kind wishes, and for filling up the Daishik form to offer a read of an ARC. Much appreciated!

  • soniadogra says:

    Heartening to learn about Tina through you. Such a heartfelt tribute to her. I have no words to add here.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Tina was a phenomenon.

      She is a treasure from my blogging journey, as are you–thank you for always offering your support. I hope you know I’m just a DM away, as well.

  • 3mpodcast says:

    I mentioned Tina, too. As soon as the sunflowers pop up everywhere in Colorado, my thoughts turn to her.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Shannon, sunflowers and Tina are now synonymous for me. I’m sure she’s raising good trouble and laughing, wherever she is.

  • jlennidorner says:

    Hope you had a good IWSG day! I didn’t see this post when I looked at your page earlier. Clearly I’m going nuts.

  • Mary Aalgaard says:

    Your remembrances for Tina and Jeremy are well said. They both contributed so much, and had generous spirits. I’d love to help you promote your next book. I’ll sign up!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Mary, they were golden. We had a lovely co-host group with the A to Z Challenge, and I made so many friends with other bloggers.

      Thank you for offering to help, I really appreciate it.

  • I am endlessly grateful to so many of the people I have met in the blogosphere – and mourn so many who have left. I may not have met them in life, but they made a permanent home in my heart.
    And I am pleased (so pleased) to hear that your new book is nearly done…

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So well said, Sue. Online friends are just as real to me as irl friends. Sometimes you make a connection, and that’s that.

      Thanks so much for the kind words on my book. The copyedits are done, and the proofreads will hit me this month. Your support means the world.

  • Oh, yes, Damyanti, two bloggers sadly missed. I didn’t know them as well as you did, but Tina was very helpful, when I wrote a guest blog for the A to Z Challenge. I regarded her as a friend. The graphics Jeremy provided were super.
    Congratulations on your new book!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Tina was super-helpful, always, and I agree, Jeremy designed wonderful graphics. They are both missed.

      Thanks you for stopping by, and your kind wishes.

  • Lee Lowery says:

    What a lovely tribute to Tina and Jeremy. Friends who pour out their inspiration and joy for life are precious jewels and we always wish we’d loved them just a little more. Thank you for sharing. ❀️

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Lee. I miss Tina dearly, and Jeremy’s passing has been a shock.

      Grateful for the IWSG community.

  • Yvonne V says:

    “With the pandemic, the importance of the online community has increased manifold.” So true! And your blog is a lovely tribute.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, my online life has been a savior during the pandemic. Thanks for stopping by, Yvonne!

  • So good to hear from you, Damyanti. I wish I’d known both Tina and Jeremy. Are there blogs still up? Can I check out their posts? When you’re ready, count me in for your next book. If it’s anything like the last one, I’ll love it.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Good to hear from you as well, Jacqui! Yes, both Tina’s and Jeremy’s blogs are up–and I’ve linked them to their names in my post.

      Thanks so much for your support of my writing. I’ll reach out as soon as we have further developments.E-arcs should be ready by end February, if not before.

  • I still miss Tina so much. And she and Jeremy were like sister and brother. I know he took her passing hard. Hopefully they are now enjoying each other’s company again in Heaven. And what a blessing you got to speak with her.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So well said, Alex. They definitely were like siblings, and he took her passing very hard. May they be enjoying each other’s company again. Miss them both.

  • bikerchick57 says:

    Damyanti, I’m approaching nine years of blogging and it’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long. Time flies when you’re surrounded by a wonderful blogging community and friends. I’m so glad I connected with you and so many others here. I’ve learned much about other countries, communities and the human experience, not to mention having writers like you who inspire me to do better with my writing and with staying connected. If not for this, times spent in seclusion during the pandemic would have been more difficult.

    I’m excited for the new book and can’t wait to read the finished product!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Mary, likewise. I miss the days of Blog Friends First, and all of the interaction we had on our blogs. With health issues, the pandemic, and my writing life, blogging has taken a back seat, and I hope to change that. Thanks so much for your support. I’ll definitely reach out to you as things progress in the next few weeks.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Damyanti! I just wanted to thank you for your encouragement of and friendship with the late great Rick Mobbs. He so enjoyed the blog connection with you and it helped him as he was creating new virtual and in person communities when we moved from North Carolina to New Mexico. Your kindness and creativity were a great inspiration to him!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Naomi, so lovely of you to reach out. Rick and I became online friends through mutual creative inspiration. He was wonderfully talented, and immensely kind. I remember his work, especially Creation Myth, and Summer. Wish we could have collaborated for much longer.I just checked out the Rick Mobbs Art site–his legacy is beautifully preserved. I hope we can remain in touch, and wishing you all the very best.

  • rxena77 says:

    Each of us is a walking shadow. The people in our lives are lights, varying in color and brightness. As they pass by us, our shadows move and change with each light, becoming something different with each one.

    We become a living dance of light and shadow with the people entering our lives … and leaving them.

    Such a person to me was Sandra Thrasher. I wrote my tribute to her on another IWSG post: https://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/2017/06/sandra-trashera-star-to-guide-byiwsg.html

    All of us are such lights. We can only hope to be healing ones, right? Thank you, Damyanti, for being such a light for me. πŸ™‚

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So very well said, Ronald. Thank you for being a light in mine. I’ve been on hiatus and missed your posts–hope you’ve been well.

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