In 1998, Thomas Slatin embarked on a journey that was simply not often thought of back before the turn of the twenty-first century. Sure, plenty of people started websites back then, but often in the hopes for a quick buck. So, to say Thomas was ahead of his time was an understatement. As a long-time photographer who’d already been honing his craft for over a decade, he saw an opportunity to share his photography with the World Wide Web. Even more important to Thomas, though, was the opportunity to share his true passion, his writings.
Thomas and I crossed paths casually a couple of years back on Twitter before I’d gone on a long social media hiatus due to family matters and people generally being stupid. Back then, I’d thought Thomas was just a professional photographer who dabbled in creative journalistic nonfiction. It didn’t occur to me that writing was as much a passion of his as photography.
Reading through a number of his articles, I could tell that he was a specially talented writer who’d been long toiling at his craft. But, he seemed to be looking backward far too often, something I have done myself on many occasions. I asked myself, what if he were to project forward how much his already beautiful writing might evolve?
While Thomas has dabbled in journalism and even poetry at a time, creative nonfiction is truly his bread and butter. Without a doubt, his writing has always been good, but there’s no doubt that he definitely reached new heights with writing one of the most beautiful pieces I’d ever read called “A Little Ghost for the Offering.”
I come across plenty of outstanding writing every so often, even on online threads as commonplace as a Twitter writer’s lift. But, there was a special level of care taken with this piece and the emotions were easily palpable as I read it. The narration provided by British author Kai Beck only enhanced the experience. After reading this piece, I made it a point to better know this man Thomas Slatin. Even though we’d casually known each other for a while, it was very important to me to get to know what made him such a special writer.
As it turned out, my initial impressions about his writing style were correct. I’d assumed he’d been influenced by beat writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, authors who’d certainly had influences on my own work over the years. Not only were they influences, but Allen Ginsberg himself personally mentored Thomas! It was Ginsberg who saw legendary writer potential in Thomas from an early age. While I certainly could see the potential now, having a legend like Ginsberg tell him that and personally show him the tricks of his trade is priceless!
Thomas and I began to talk pretty intensely in the year 2020. COVID-19 really had hit both of our creative efforts very hard. We were both dealing with many different issues in our lives and both of us had a lot of things to work through. It turned out that we have almost identical personalities, with mine being more extroverted to his being introverted. We got along famously within a very short time and became close personal friends. It then became our mutual life purpose to help the other find a crazy high level of success. Thomas helped me to raise my own standards to brand new heights and I made him realize that Allen Ginsberg was right about him.
I feel honored to have my words serve as the preface to what I believe is the culmination of blood, sweat, and tears that have long gone mostly unrecognized. While his photography has won awards, and it’s truly brilliant to be sure, Thomas’ writing is what truly drew me to him. Thomas has the most beautiful soul I’ve ever met in another human being – man, woman, or non binary. Not only has he helped me to take my own writing to another level, but he’s helped me become the best possible person I can be.
I’m so honored to know this man Thomas Slatin and have him as my very best friend. It’s amazing how life works sometimes, to take two people that feel lost and at a difficult crossroads, and somehow get them standing side by side seemingly by completely random chance. Without a doubt, there are certain things that do happen for a reason. But, oftentimes our own free will leaves us with a choice that we can’t possibly appreciate in the moments we’re forced to make them.
Fortunately, for Thomas and I, we made the right choice to partner up and make one another stronger. Sometimes, in moments of great weakness, we finally dig into the deepest recesses of our hearts and pull out our very best stuff. It’s my greatest honor to be a part of a work that will prove the point that Allen Ginsberg made all those years ago. In “The Only Child Of An Atomic Engineer,” you’ll watch Thomas grow as a writer from the mid-1990s all the way to now. Through the years of entries, you’ll see how geniuses are certainly born, but legends are made through the tireless, painstaking toils of an indomitable spirit.
Writing can take you places that perhaps no other art can. It can help you meet people you couldn’t have dreamed of ever meeting before. So, if you take just one thing away from this tremendous tome of wisdom and sense, let it be this: writing is perhaps the hardest profession there is, but just as with anything else, success is there for those who never give up.
— Amelia “Phoenix” Desertsong