A Story for Karen Renner and Lisa Hardy

The first time I met Karen, I was in awe of the new Writer in Residence at the library, a professor of English at NAU! And here she was willing to sacrifice who knows how many hours to help fellow writers in Flagstaff. And I was one of them! I couldn’t believe she actually wanted to read any part of my story. And once she’d read part of it, she still offered to read more.

I don’t actually remember the very first time that we met, maybe only an image of a five foot two blond haired, blue-eyed Writer in Residence seated at a rectangular table in the northwest corner of the library, surrounded by 4 or 5 people aptly paying attention to every word she said. Karen introduced herself and made everyone feel like they belonged at that table. I continued to show up to the Writers Who Lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, an escape from being at home with the kids every day all day long (summer time). The kids came with me but mostly hung out in the children’s section playing games on the computers.

The more I got to know Karen and how genuine she was, the more I wanted to make sure I had every opportunity to be at all the events she was going to. She was going to be teaching about blogging, perfect! I was new to the whole blogging thing and I was bound to learn something. Podcasting? That sounds cool. Grabbing a drink at a pub downtown to just sit and write? I was there.

Karen went above and beyond what was required of her as the Writer in Residence. I was not the only one she was helping. Every new writer that came to an event benefited from Karen’s expertise. I’m sure every single one of them would agree that Karen’s generosity made our lives a little bit brighter. When her residency ended, we were all sad to see her go. I was trying to make every moment with her count before I most likely would never see her again.

But when the time actually came, Karen surprised me by wanting to hang out even after her residency. She wanted to start a critique group and she wanted me to be a part of it! My whole writer journey was mostly on my own with a few exceptions of long-distance writing buddies cheering me on. Of course, I said yes! Now, Karen is one of my best friends. Both Karen and Lisa (our other critique partner) are always there for me when I need them. I hope that I am there for them too. I have loved reading their writing and seeing them overcome their struggles as fellow writers.

Sometimes life is hard. Even now, as I’m writing this, the whole world is changing (#SocialDistancing). But we are still writing together long distance, encouraging each other in the midst of anxiety and uncertainty. Right now we are doing a word sprint together! It’s almost like NaNo all over again but with smaller goals 🙂 I am praying for them and for the whole world in our time of need. I’m praying for mercy and grace, for healing and love, for knowledge and testing, for provisions and kindness and the list goes on. There isn’t much we can do in our separate homes but we can thank those in our lives who have and continue to show us kindness. So thank you, Karen, for being so kind to me. I thank God every day for bringing you into my life.

I want to thank Lisa Hardy, too. Not only has she been super helpful in her critiques of my story but she has become a good friend this last year. I met her, too, at the Writers Who Lunch, with her curly red hair bunched up in a pony tail bun and her long slender fingers dashing over the keyboard. I am so glad Karen decided to invite her to the critique group. Lisa works at NAU, an Anthropology Professor. And she is so warm and welcoming just like Karen. She is easy to work with and has very insightful thoughts. I’ve learned so much from her. I hope that I have been able to help her as much as she has helped me, though I am doubtful on that. Also, there’s no way I can beat her at a word sprint. She is the fastest typer I know. And I love the way her mind works. I think she has a unique way of looking at the world that is super helpful. Thank you, Lisa, for being my friend.

Who do you want to thank during these tumultuous times? What are some nice things people have done for you? #WritingPrompt: Think about a time someone did something nice for you and write a story for that person. #amwriting #SocialDistancing #FlattenTheCurve

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