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Poulsbo man hopes book will ease others’ grief

William Mash and his daughter Julie at his first book signing for his first book, “The Magical Pen.” Mash wrote the book as a therapy after the passing of his wife, Diane.                           - Megan Stephenson / Herald
William Mash and his daughter Julie at his first book signing for his first book, “The Magical Pen.” Mash wrote the book as a therapy after the passing of his wife, Diane.
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / Herald

POULSBO — William “Bill” Mash has always had strange dreams.

Every morning, Mash, 82, would wake up and his wife, Diane, would say, “Tell me about your crazy dreams.”

Diane died on July 4, 2012. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and died surrounded by family at Martha & Mary three weeks later. The Mashes were married for 47 years.

Between his wide array of life experiences and story-like dreams, Mash had a slew of stories on his hands.

“After she died, it was just exploding to get out,” Mash said. “I can’t help it, it’s going all the time … The imagination is the greatest therapy.”

Mash made his living as a designer, from mechanical products to aerospace to studio work. He would also paint and sculpt in his free time. But Diane always encouraged him to write his stories down too.

Mash recently published “The Magical Pen,” a collection of short stories following the path of a fountain pen.

Mash wrote his stories for his own therapy, but also as an example for others.

“Let me entertain you with endless adventures that open your mind to pleasures usually found only in your dreams,” Mash writes in the preface. “Here you can escape reality and find peace.”

“There is magic in your own brain if you just let it go,” he said. Having face-to-face conversations with family, friends, even strangers every day opens up the mind. “Open you mind to the drama [of] everyday,” Mash said.

Mash had no formal training as a writer, and ended up recruiting his daughter Julie as editor, he said. Having a creative mind boils down to passion, he said.

Mash would write feverishly, “draft, after draft, after draft,” writing by hand and on the computer. He would sometimes write four stories at the same time, jumping from page to page as ideas popped into his head, he said.

“As the pen is passed on from one person to another, it has a profound effect on the lives of those that find it,” according to Mash's description of the book.

The stories are based on real-life events that happened to Mash. The pen that binds everyone together is the first contemporary fountain pen, patented in 1867.

Mash was educated at the Art Center College of Design outside of Los Angeles, and met Malibu-born Diane. They moved to Seattle in 1965 where Mash worked for Boeing, including space exploration. He also worked for the state prison system, designing products for the inmates to make. He worked as a commercial sculptor and in advertising in Seattle, while the family moved from Mercer Island to Bainbridge Island before settling in Sawdust Hill in Poulsbo. Mash said Diane’s passion was horses.

One day Diane was riding with her daughter last summer, but was unable to get off her horse without trouble. Worried, Mash brought her to Harrison Medical Center, who referred them to a specialist at Swedish Medical Center.

“‘I had a good life,’” Diane told Mash. “‘I can accept dying.’”

Mash has come to peace with his wife’s death, but knows the toll on his children — Julie, Brant and Jeff.

“The book has done wonders for my family,” he said. Mash said the family has grown closer, and he has come to peace with her death.

“As far as I’m concerned she’s still with me,” Mash said. “I don’t think of it like she’s gone, we’re all spiritual anyway. She’s laughing at all my crazy stories.”

“The Magical Pen” can be found in local bookstores, on Amazon and eBay. Go to www.williammash.com for more information.

 

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