Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Harry Rubin, Writer Extraordinaire

 I met Harry Rubin in the early ‘80s. Cannot pinpoint the date but it seems I’ve always known this wonderful, tough, giving man. It was during my first nervous venture to Southeastern Writer’s worship that we connected. He immediately took me under his wing and introduced me to everyone and filled me in on their writing accomplishments and aspirations, paving the way for a relaxed, family-like adventure.  

Harry was a people-person of the highest order and that impressed me. Did I mention that my first time at the SWA workshop was one of apprehension? At least it was initially. I drove the five-hour trip alone and plunged into a passel of strangers who were unique to say the least. Writers are an atypical lot, in case you hadn’t noticed. None are without strong opinions on every imaginable topic and most are garrulous in voicing them. Especially the Colonel, as Harry was affectionately called.  I was hooked the first day because the whole experience stimulated my mind to new horizons. Too, I realized that my eccentricities were, at least here amongst this new lot of peers, not so unacceptable. Finally, I was among kindred spirits. Harry’s laid-backness helped me through the “melting pot” experience of bonding with extremely differing personalities who shared one strong common denominator: WRITING. 

Harry’s writing talent is marvelous. He is quite proficient in spanning genres, from his legendary humor (limericks), poetry, short stories, adventure novels to romance. Harry did them all with aplomb. Like voicing his opinions, he created stories with gusto. No. Harry was never half way with any endeavor.

Harry Rubin is the quintessential friend. During the first insecure years of attending classes and submitting manuscripts to the annual SWA contests, I found in Harry a support that fostered within me a growing confidence that I could succeed. Before email days, we exchanged weekly snail mail letters, hand written. I found him to be, without fail, open, honest, and down to earth. When needed, I could always count on Harry for good old common sense advice. 

Then we both began serving on the SWA Board of Directors. Those years added a new dimension to our alliance. We remained friends but many times in the new arena, we were required to make organizational decisions that forced us to agree to disagree. And to—ahh, that magic word—compromise. Through it all, Harry remained a gentleman. He taught me much about diplomacy and unconditional love. 

Among my fondest memories of Harry is his doing the Jewish “blessing” at our annual Awards Banquet. ..reading his Limericks on open mike night…presenting awards…telling engaging stories at the cafeteria table…proudly introducing his lovely Dee to us…and one memory in particular stands out. I’d gotten a particularly bad critique from one of that years’ judges and was feeling shredded. He reassured me that the lady was just jealous because I was (in his words) both pretty and smart and to pay her no mind. He insisted that I was a very talented writer who would succeed because I was determined and willing to work hard. His encouragement went a long, long way in keeping me focused and hanging in there.

Now we all know that there is a tough side to the “Colonel”. I saw and experienced it many times through the years. As I mentioned earlier, the Colonel had very strong opinions. He was never half way. He left no doubt as to what he thought on any given subject. Few could talk him down. No. Make that NONE could talk him down. He rarely changed his mind once it was set.  But that proved to be to our advantage during SWA’s hard times. More than once, Harry bailed us out and paved the way for future SWA workshops.  Most of all, he spoke life and hope to us all. He never gave up on us.

He validated us.

Thanks, Harry Rubin, for being you. And thanks for investing in me during my early struggles. I am where I am today, with a measure of success, because of friends like you who took time to care and help me along the way. In a sense, you are family. And as such, I wish for you undying happiness, joy, and peace.

~~ Emily Sue Harvey

Emily Sue is a long-time member of SWA, a former SWA president and a successful novelist.  Follow her on Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment