A seat at the Westside Writer’s Workshop sits empty. Andrea Shuman stepped from our presence into the presence of her Creator and Savior on Friday, January 26th, a little after 11AM.
Sometimes her work was embedded in the facts of fairy tale. “‘You shall bear a girl-child,’ the frog croaked in a deep voice that reminded her of damp bogs and dark places.” Other times her work reflected a deep love for Victorian-era literature, with it’s mysterious characters, twilight settings, and the difficult lives of the servant class. Yet there were other stories, like that of a female assassin who had rescued a young girl from a life of certain suffering in Africa. “Sweat stung her eyes. Her head throbbed. She rolled her shoulders, flexed her fingers, and squinted down the sights again.”
A week after Thanksgiving, when the Workshop read this last piece – and the first time we met that tough yet deeply feeling female protagonist, I encouraged Andrea to simply write. To write without concern for punctuation or format, to write, to write 100 pages, to write more, to write until she had run her imagination dry. With prose that was functioning at this level that was all her work needed from her. A couple of weeks later she told us of her excitement. She was writing at that pace. And it was working.
Over the next couple of months Andrea was going to lead the Workshop through a reading of Jane Eyre. Her email on January 16th reflected her excitement. “I want us all to pick up on subtlety and details. Let’s start out with the first two chapters. I want to talk about point of view.”
We all leave this life with work-in-progress. And there is no loss in that. That is the goal of a creative life. To leave work-in-progress. Andrea was a writer. Success for a writer is measured in the reader’s desire to turn the page. Reading Andrea’s work I always wanted to turn the page.
I know I speak for the other members of our Workshop – Roger (her loving husband), Rita, Teresa, and Jim. We’re glad we had the chance to hone our craft together. It was our pleasure, Andrea. And now, as our eyes grow weaker, you write by the very best Light.