I owe an apology to all the followers and to the contributors of this site because it’s been a long time since anyone has said or done anything here. That’s because, as many of you now know, our dear friend and mentor Marilyn L. Davis passed away on June 11 of this year. I didn’t find out about her passing until September. I found out through one of the former contributors to the site who was emailing me and was unaware that I did not know she had passed.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. It froze me in time. It placed some major decisions in my lap that I was not ready for, and, frankly, that Marilyn and I had never discussed. Believe it or not, in all the years we were together, and with all of the things we shared in conversation, we never discussed what would happen with this site if something were to happen to her. It’s hard for me to believe (in reflection) because she had more foresight than me in those kinds of matters. So I apologize to all of you that it has taken me this long to simply make a decision and to write something on this blog.
So here we go.
First and foremost, I’m not gonna make this a fancy post with all the elaborate subtitles and wonderful graphics that Marilyn would always include. She was so talented, and she didn’t even know it. Rather, I’m just going to be raw and honest and tell our story as a final tribute to my beloved big sister. That’s what I called her, “big sis.”
Marilyn and I met a long time ago – I would have to say it would’ve been more than 20 years ago. At that time, I was a thriving member of the recovery community in the North Georgia area and didn’t know her extremely well, but everybody knew about Marilyn and her women’s recovery house called The North House. I was a member of a motorcycle club that also attached itself to the recovery community.
I left that motorcycle club under some very nasty circumstances in May 2012. I had also become a Christian. I had never believed, seriously that is, in the Christian faith until this point in my life. As a side note, for those that may be curious, Marilyn practiced a modern type of Buddhism but she believed in God, and she believed in Jesus Christ – we had conversations about those things privately. I’ll never forget one day, I would say it was sometime in 2013, and I’m not really sure about the date because I was with her at The North House which she was in the process of closing. We talked about some personal matters, and she wept, and she asked me to pray for her. We sat and prayed together about the matters that she was facing at that time. I have never told that story to anyone because it was private. But that’s how close she and I were.
I had always had a dream of being a writer. Prior to going to college and gaining some skills and understanding of the craft, I looked back at my dreams and I didn’t even know what it was to plagiarize. I could tell you some really funny stories about that. But moving ahead to the relevant parts of this, I started a personal blog in or around 2008 on the Blogspot platform, and my wife at the time helped me come up with the name Two Drops of Ink. She was rather clever with phrases, and I really liked the title. At that time, it was nothing more than a personal blog that nobody cared about with less than 10 followers. Over the next year or so, I would post my pathetic writing, terrible poetry, etc.
While I was in college and studying to earn a degree in English (with a concentration in publication), I did a lot of writing in a lot of places. I worked on some self-published books, peer-reviewed papers, getting poetry published, and a few other projects, but I never really messed around with Two Drops of Ink. Unfortunately, I don’t really recall what sparked the conversations that Marilyn and I began to have about writing. I’m trying to think back, and I do know that first of all Marilyn was, much like my current wife, a voracious reader which is why she was such a great writer. She read all genres, but mostly fiction. I have to say, as a former editor, those who read fiction will always find the craft of writing to come more naturally. They understand or have an understanding of literary tools like metaphor, simile, alliteration, etc. It comes to them because they have read examples time and again through their favorite authors.
In downtown Gainesville, Georgia, there is a coffee shop called the Inman Perk which is a play on words because in Atlanta we have the famous Inman Park. The Inman Perk is a place where so many of the people Marilyn and I knew in the Hall county recovery community would gather because there was a local AA meeting on the same block at St. Luke’s Church. Both are still there today.
At that time, Marilyn, being the older sister type and an excellent counselor because of what she had done for over 20 years in the women’s recovery community, began to let me cry on her shoulder about the things that had happened to me concerning the motorcycle club I had left. While it was one of the best things that ever happened to me, to be forced out of that lifestyle, I had spent 15 years in a motorcycle club and did not realize that it was much like a cult. They taught me who to hate, who to hang around with, what to wear, how to ride, and how to talk. It really is a cult-like situation to be involved in a motorcycle club or a gang. That’s just my opinion. There are writings on this site that you can look up that tell stories from that time in my life, so I won’t go into them here, but she became my confidant, and we grew closer and closer.
So we would meet quite often because I was going to the Inman Perk a lot that year. This was in the fall of 2012 and the early spring of 2013. I went there on a fairly regular basis because my former work was tied to the housing market, and we were going through the great recession and the housing market crash, so I decided I would reinvent myself, become the writer I wanted to be, and go to college to earn a degree so that I had credibility and could fulfill my dreams. And that is how the conversations about writing came up.
Pretty soon, Marilyn started to talk to me about writing, and I would share with her things from lectures from my professors and things I was learning about grammar and syntax and other things about writing, and she was very fascinated by it. One day, she mentioned that she had followed my blog Two Drops of Ink. I sort of laughed, as I recall, and I said, “Yeah, I don’t really write there much.” She asked if she could write on the site. I thought about it for a minute, and said, “Absolutely, I’m not using it.” And that’s how it all started.
From that point, Marilyn, who I have given credentials to sign in on her own, started writing on a fairly regular basis on the old site at Blogspot. Because of her bringing in some new views and comments to the site, and because she was constantly bugging me to write something on the site (bless her heart, she didn’t know that she was the talented one), I started posting some stuff as well. And the site began to gain a following.
There were a lot of lean times, frustration, mistakes, and a lot of time spent wondering if anybody would ever really care about anything we ever wrote. And then, I believe it was in 2016, we started to get mentioned by other writing sites. We also, through things I was learning in the publishing industry and my college connections, began to talk about becoming more of a literary blog where we would have writers submit writings of all genres for publication on our blog. We had not yet come up with the now-famous idea of “collaboration.” I’m not really sure that’s anything that we necessarily came up with on our own, but I don’t know of any other sites that really used that phraseology or that idea when we started our journey. There may be more of them today, I’m not really sure; however, it really was a win-win. The reason being, and many of you that have your own blogs know what I’m talking about, is that most people want their own personal blog to grow. There’s sort of an unspoken green-eyed monster in us all. I think it’s true that all of us have looked at other blogs that are growing and wondered how in the hell they do it. We have all said, “why won’t my blog grow?” We came up with the idea that if writers came to 2drops as a point for collaboration, shared their writing, and were allowed to do something that was virtually unheard of, which was to put links from this site back to their own blogs, books, essays, and other writings, that it would eventually create a larger audience – and it did. I’m sure there were a lot of people that looked at us like we were fools. In fact, I know many of them did. But the idea began to catch and it started to work
It wasn’t long before we started winning awards and getting nominated for awards, and we started attracting writers who had great talent. It was about this time that I realize that even though I loved to write, my greatest talent, at least back then, was my love of syntax and grammar and my ability to edit. I can’t say so much about it right now, because it’s been many years now since I’ve spent any time editing anything. But I will say that at the height of my career, I was editing graduate dissertations as an undergraduate. I had writers from Oxford University and other Ivy League colleges here in the United States that were asking me to edit all kinds of writings. One of my college professors approached me to help him edit a book he and three other PhDs were publishing. I remember looking in the mirror and wondering if all of it was real. How did I get where I was at? Was I really that good at editing? Well, I was. But, my friend Marilyn was a fantastic writer.
So, along with the fact that the site was growing, Marilyn and I began to understand what our roles were. She had an enormous and growing social media following. Mine was decent, but I didn’t have the charisma that she possessed. She was the front person and a very talented and witty writer. Man, that woman could turn a phrase. Behind the scenes, I was the nerd that loved grammar and syntax, and I did love to edit. I truly loved it. And I would spend time teaching her the craft of syntax and grammar while she would teach me writing without even knowing it.
Two Drops of Ink grew to about 17-20K unique hits a month, and then we moved to WordPress because we wanted to monetize and have complete design control. That move was a huge bust. It created so many problems. It was like building from nothing once again. I won’t go into the gory details, but it took us a while to build back up. Some people couldn’t even find us. It was a tough time for both of us. We laughed, and we cried, but we never gave up
There came a point in 2018 when I was experiencing a terrible case of burnout. Number one, my normal career, in the housing market, which pays very well, started to gear back up as the Obama administration was ending and a new administration was coming in. So I was very busy working. I was also hired by a company for $25,000 a year to do social media marketing and editing for them, part-time. That gig grew to be more than part-time, and I ended up with more on my shoulders than I could bear. All of this began to take its toll at 2drops. Marilyn and I never had aggressive disagreements. We never had a serious fight. Ever. But we had some pretty tough conversations. And believe me, Marilyn wasn’t afraid of shit. She didn’t mind calling me out and asking me tough questions that I didn’t wanna answer. And that’s what happened at the end of 2018 when I finally had to say to my dear friend that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was at the end of my rope. I just couldn’t look at another word, write another word, or answer another email. I was simply done. I don’t think Marilyn ever expected to hear those words come out of my mouth. It was a very difficult time and a very difficult transition. There are times that I made promises to her that I knew in my heart I didn’t want to keep. In the end, I finally just had to tell her, “Marilyn, I’m gifting the site to you. I don’t want anything from it. I don’t want any income from it – it’s yours.”
From that point, I remained a behind-the-scenes advisor to Marilyn. She would call and complain about the various situations that were pissing her off, the hard decisions about submissions she would receive, and the people that never followed the rules or thought they had special privileges owed them. I would talk her through it, and let her rant, but she always had class, and she always knew how to handle things. In spite of all she has been through, in spite of the tremendous leadership she had shown in her own life, I suddenly realized that she was still a scared little girl that needed somebody to tell her that she was good at something. And that was what I did because it was true. God, she was such a lovely, incredible woman. I truly miss her. And that is pretty much the way we stayed until I found out about her death
Things eventually got to the point where I didn’t hear from her as much. I would get a call from her maybe once a month or once every other month, and I will admit, that while I didn’t know she had passed away, I had thought about her between the time she passed away and the time I heard about her passing, but I never picked up the phone. When I found out she had passed away, without knowing at the time what she had died from, I told my wife that I knew it had to have been a sudden death. I knew Marilyn well enough to know that if she had had an extended illness she would’ve definitely called me and made arrangements about 2drops, but also because we were so close, and I might well have been one of her best friends in life, and I say that with all humility. She would’ve talked to me – we would’ve had long conversations while she was sick, so I knew she must’ve died suddenly.
Then, I went onto Facebook to her page, and I saw that on the morning of her death she had posted a table for sale. I realized the last time I had talked to her was when she had called me to tell me that she was moving down to Peachtree corners, I believe it was. I was sort of shocked that she was going to leave the Hall county area. But that was our last real conversation as best as I can remember.
Sadly, after hearing about her death, I had a huge sense of resentment and anger at the recovery community and other people who damn well knew how close Marilyn and I were. They knew how to get a hold of me. They knew when her celebration of life is going to be, and one of them even lives down the street from me, nobody ever bothered to say anything to me about Marilyn’s death. I got to tell you, I still get pissed when I talk about it, so please forgive me.
So, if this post seems too long. I want to thank all of you that have been a part of this site, a part of Marilyn’s life – of my life. But particularly what you did for my dear big sister. You gave her something to dream about and lived for right up to the moment she left this earth. I can’t thank you enough. I’m sure that I’m not writing the best piece that I could possibly write. I’m sure that I’m forgetting something. I don’t know if I’ll ever write here again. I do want to say that there have been some wonderful people that have reached out and they wanted to move the site forward, to keep it going. They wanted to have me allow others to take control of the site and continue publishing. But I have to say, after way too much thought, that I cannot do that. I can’t explain it, but it’s deep in my gut.
I know they’re going to be those that will not understand my decision, in fact, my own wife disagrees with it. But I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart that I can’t envision this site going forward without Marilyn. I’m sorry. I just can’t do it. To me, I want to make this final post as a tribute to my friend and to your friend and the woman that really was the face of Two Drops of Ink. I don’t ever want 2drops to have another face associated with it, it is and was Marilyn’s. And with that final thought, I will tell you all that I love you, and I hope you will write your comments here about what Marilyn meant to you. And I hope that she can look down from heaven and see all of us and that someday we will all rejoin her in the afterlife. God bless each and every one of you.