I just found out that Janet Berliner-Gluckman died early this morning, October 24, 2012. If I factor in differences of time zones and what I know about the approximate time of her death, I am nearly certain at the very moment of her last breath, I was doing what she taught me to do: revising a manuscript. If, as she left this earth, she saw me at that moment among all the people whose lives she’d touched, I hope the sight of me doing what she guided through multiple times touched a smile upon her.
It is no exaggeration for me to say that I would not have a career as a fiction writer were it not for Janet Berliner-Gluckman. She was the first professional editor to solicit and to accept anything I’d written for professional rates. The story in question, “Winter Requiem”, was written as a work of mourning begun while my best friend was dying of AIDS. There were a number of issues with the work, and while there was pressure to remove the work from the anthology in which it was eventually published, Janet steadfastly stood up for my inclusion in the anthology and guided me through a series of rewrites that quite frankly I can’t remember the exact number of. She was a remarkable mentor, and what she has taught me about revision I have in turn passed on to people whose work I have edited at ChiZine and I have also in turn passed on what she taught me to my students at Grub Street.
Most of my fiction is about mourning in one way or another. I wrote “Winter Requiem” consciously as an act of mourning. It’s probably right that the work must now retroactively become a work of mourning for Janet. In this light, I hope she takes this as the Kaddish it is meant to be.