I’m sad to report that earlier this week a friend of mine, Martha Blowen, passed away. Martha was an artist, a papermaker, a publisher, a writing coach, and a lovely, gentle soul. With her partner, Denis Ledoux, Martha started a small Franco-American publishing house called Soleil Press, which focused on memoirs and the immigrant experience. I spent several college summers interning at Soleil Press—copyediting, typing, stuffing envelopes—getting as much publishing experience as I could soak up.
I have many warm memories of sitting around Denis and Martha’s kitchen table drinking tea, looking out at the rolling fields behind their house, talking about the creative process. Their way of life was such an inspiration. Growing up in a small, blue collar town, I had never really known anyone who had given up the grind to do just what they loved—much less for art, which was deemed a frivolous luxury. Money was sometimes tight and they definitely had their struggles, but Martha and Denis were present for their children and for each other in ways that many of us would envy. They showed me there was another way to live.
In Martha’s own words:
“And you also can create the life you want. 'Follow your bliss' is not lightly said. There will be consequences and choices to make, but there's integrity in following what you know you should be doing for yourself.”
She will be missed.