Dear Walt,

I found this photo of you when looking through my phone’s gallery yesterday. I have several favorite pics but love running across ones I’ve forgotten about. This one really got to me yesterday which was another total crapfest of a day. I realized that the worst days are when I don’t write to you, even though I talk to you, and when I’ve taken cold meds at bedtime.

I’m not taking them to sleep. I’m sleeping fine. I’m truly taking them because my allergies and sinuses just won’t quit. But you know we both hated taking meds of any kind and I try not to.

Part of yesterday’s constant sadness was due to Icefall having more pages read and a tie for most daily copies sold since we published it, and you weren’t here to see the numbers. It should’ve been a day to celebrate your imagination. An excellent day to be a creative artist.

I wanted to scream.

I was so angry that I couldn’t see your enjoyment, hear you laugh, see your amazement that people were actually reading the words you’d written. You wanted nothing more than to get your book, our book, into readers’ hands. Every sale thrilled you. You carried every single one with you proudly. A victory. A gift. You lived your story world, coming up with bits and pieces, with twists and turns while spending your days in the garage with your router building new kitchen cabinets. You wanted to get back to your keyboard. I wish you had let yourself.

I look at this photo and remember taking it from upstairs, catching you downstairs so engrossed in your work. This was when our house was still in one piece, when our days were spent hashing out plot points and character arcs. I can’t believe I don’t have that now. You were my sounding board when I hit those brick walls. And I was so very proud to be yours.

I’d had wonderful critique partners over the years but our ability to anticipate each other’s needs and read each other’s minds, those twenty years of coming to know each other as well as we knew ourselves made our writing partnership rich beyond measure. You made me work smarter and harder which isn’t surprising. You were as hard on yourself as on any author you read.

You got so frustrated at my editing and yet you were just as exact in your own way. The elements in your world were purpose-driven and motivated and each made senseā€”which I found out each time I questioned something you’d written. I’m going to miss talking story with you. Arguing. Defending. Switching gears. Brainstorming. I hope I can remember everything you taught me.