I met Frances over 20 years ago in London when we were working on our Masters degrees in Asian art at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studied (SOAS). Her main field of interest was Chinese art and mine was Japanese, so we didn’t take many classes together – only a course in Chinese ceramics, which was highlight of my Masters program. We didn’t know each other terribly well, but I believe we respected each other’s knowledge and work ethic. After I graduated I ended up moving West to California, and Frances moved East to Hong Kong, working as an editor for an illustrious Asian art magazine, an impressive position in a profession with sadly few employment opportunities.
A couple of years back I received a message from Frances. She is now the editor of (and a writer for) a Buddhist website, www.buddhistdoor.com run out of Hong Kong. She wanted me to write about Buddhist art for the site. Since one of my main interests as an art historian is Buddhist art, I welcomed the opportunity. It has been hard submitting an article every month, but I’ve been writing for them for 18 months now and hope to continue in the New Year. Today I sent Frances a little gift – a folded bookmark – to thank her not only for hiring me to write for her website but also for wanting me to write an article for it about my blog, as she saw something Buddhist in my acts of giving. Writing about my acts of giving and about my process of blogging was a challenge – writing about writing feels a bit strange. But with her usual skill and compassion she helped me form a decent article (http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/the-joy-of-giving).
It means so much to me that someone from my past still believes in what I do and wants to help share it with others. Editors rarely get the credit they deserve for their meticulous work, their own knowledge and their fine craft, so today, I thank her for making my articles read and flow better and actually make sense. To a writer, there is no greater gift.