The Story Behind ‘Saying Goodbye’ by Mike O’Mary


I’ve always been a fan of the short essay, and a year ago, I launched Dream of Things with the intent of publishing anthologies of creative nonfiction that will fill the gap between popular anthologies that publish stories I regard as “short and sweet” (sometimes so saccharine-sweet they are hard to swallow), and the Best American Essays series, which I love, but which tend to be quite a bit longer. So the goal for Dream of Things anthologies is to be not short and sweet, but short and deep. With depth comes authenticity. The result is stories that are easier to swallow because they are authentic, and easier to digest because they average 1,250 words in length.

So I started my publishing company and put out a call for submissions for anthologies on fourteen topics. However, “saying goodbye” was not one of the initial topics. The idea for “saying goodbye” as a topic didn’t come to me until I received a story from Stephen Parrish. I am a fan of Stephen’s writing, and he had been very supportive of what I was trying to do with Dream of Things. He sent me a story called “Bridget” about his experience as a young boy with the death of a classmate. I liked the story, but it didn’t fit neatly into any of the existing anthology topics. So I created a new anthology for stories about “saying goodbye.”

The amazing thing is that this topic really struck a chord with writers. I ended up with submissions from all around the world, and Saying Goodbye ended up being the first anthology from Dream of Things, even though the topic wasn’t one of the original topics. And I think there’s a reason for the popularity of the topic. Stories about saying goodbye are incredibly powerful and moving, but there aren’t many outlets for such stories. As Terri Elders, one of the contributors, quotes Shakespeare when she talks about the Saying Goodbye anthology: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” I think Terri and other writers were glad to have a place for their stories of “sweet sorrow.”

Mike O’Mary is series editor of the Dream of Things anthologies including Saying Goodbye, an anthology of true stories about people saying goodbye to the people, places and things in our lives with grace, dignity and good humor.  He is founder of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online retailer. He is also author of The Note, a book about the power of appreciation, and Wise Men and Other Stories, a collection of holiday-related essays. For more information, visit www.goodbyebook.com.

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