The Doors of imagination
I was so lucky. In my crazy childhood house, which I have documented in my 867-5309 memoir (order from me and get in the running for that signed guitar!), there was a big room filled with books. The bookshelves were floor to ceiling, and held perhaps several hundred books. There were novels and biographies, Atlases (I know the world of maps pretty well and now I have Google Earth, too!), two sets of Encyclopedias, including the Britannica- I preferred the World Book because of the pictures—the hardbound American Heritage series (great), and shelves of National Geographics dating back to the 1920’s. The books came from my mom and dad’s childhoods and up to current times. My mom was an avid reader, to say the least. My dad liked Popular Science magazines which graced the downstairs bathroom. “Wingless Airplanes of the Future!” “Spandex jackets for dogs under the sea!”
I spent many hours perusing those shelves, digging through the old books. I was in love with history (still am, duh), so I would delve into a period I became interested in and read everything I could about it. The Greek Myths drew me in, as did the Arabian Nights. My mom hand-fed my books she thought I would like. Mary Renault’s The King Must Die, about Theseus and the Minotaur and Ariadne was a wonderful book. Tomorrow’s Fire, about the Crusades – a book I located again recently and re-read. I loved biographies of adventurers, tales of far-off lands, epics of war and discovery. My mom was cunning; she hand=picked books that would take me on far journeys of the mind. She was a very well-read, discerning reader; she knew her good writers.
By my nature I lived in a world of imagination as well. Maybe I was bit withdrawn. I spent a lot of time playing with my many toy soldiers: Knights, little green plastic infantry men, Civil war guys. I took them outside and made castles and walled forts for them and played out battles and heroic deeds.
But I didn’t need the little men to make up stories. I could tap into my imagination and go places that seemed quite real to me. This is not unique to me at all, of course. It is like in the mind’s eye there is an infinitely huge marbled-walled and floored vault with countless corridors lined with innumerable doors. Each door leads to a new world. As far back as I can remember I’ve been exploring those worlds. There I was in the Bronze Age, on a new planet somewhere out there in time and space, or on a baseball diamond in 1907. I can freely wander and fly through these worlds; there is no limit to the imagination.
As I got older I opted for a life of rock music—read my book, please! It wasn’t until my older son James was around eleven that I began writing down a story. Truly, I was no great English student in High School- though I had great teachers there at Verde Valley School. Writing was a chore- anything beyond a verse and chorus. But as a joke I started writing a very silly story on one side of James’ brown paper lunch bag every day. As weeks went by I began to get interested in the story and it evolved into an adventure. The bag went to school, was read by James –and his friends—and then consigned to the greasy pit of the noon lunch garbage can. This was around 1989. I wrote the story for the whole school year. I had my first readers!
Shortly afterwards we got our first computer, a fantastic little box with a black, 8” screen and amber letters. Maybe sixty KBs of memory! Wow. Word Perfect was on it. I had the thought that I should put down that story, what I remembered of it. I thought it might be as long as thirty pages!
Well, it turned into three hundred and fifty pages. My first “novel” called, “Land of the Snoods”. The Snoods are little people living in a world of cultures that resemble earthly ones. I found I could see this world quite clearly and I was thrilled to be able to go adventuring around in it through the eyes of my characters. They go over waterfalls, see visions, fight battles, and fall in love. That amazing cliché about characters coming to life and telling the writer the story proved to be so true! I was so caught up in the story that I went right into the second book of what had to be a trilogy, “Land of the Infidels”, followed by “Land of the Yourris”, a book that is only one-third finished. The whole series is “The Lunchbag Chronicles”.
I took a little break as I got divorced and moved to Nashville to try my hand a staff writer at a couple of Music Publishers. That’s another story. I returned to writing stories about six years ago and have written my 867-5309 book and five novels. I am all over the place: another Epic adventure series about the Bronze Age, a baseball story that’s been turned into a screenplay, a sci-fi thriller about reincarnation (lots of action), and my farcical look at baby boomers, Second Childhood, which is under contract. I have sequels partially written for most of these books and I have a story about the Old West as well. . Now I have another son, Aidan, who is nine. He and I are travelling beyond the borders of The Lunchbag Chronicles and have made up two very viable adventures.
Enough shameless bragging (well, I do need to sell these stories to survive). The point is that I have been blessed by the ability to tap into the worlds of these stories and go there. The books of my childhood launched me into the open universes of the imagination. Writing is no chore; I only describe what I see happening. Don’t be afraid to open those doors; there are infinite worlds to be enjoyed and wonderful characters to meet.
Thanks for all the books, mom and dad.