When I open my laptop computer it is like opening a door to a realm of endless possibilities; a universe of the imagination. In that universe, nothing is too fantastic to visualize and I have the chance to make new and lasting friends that in my mind are more real than those of flesh and blood. They are my creation and I can determine what they say and do.
But there are times my characters surprise me. I think they are going to go one way and they go another when circumstances dictate that they should alter my plans for their future. I rarely use an outline because real life is full of surprises and I want my writing to reflect that in my stories.
I usually know what is going to happen when I start writing a story or book. But I am mainly an observer of what happens in my imagination. If I think certain things are going to happen, something I may have never expected suddenly occurs and I discover that my plans for the lives of my characters have to change. The uncertainty excites me and motivates me to write some more in order to find out what is going to happen and how the myriad of changes will change my characters and what they say and do.
I began writing tours through the imagination when I was in first grade. The first story I remember writing was about saving a couple little girls I liked from a dragon that I slayed. They probably have grandchildren that are older than they were when they were characters in my heroic narrative. But in my universe of the imagination they will forever be cute little girls that were sweet and innocent.
My writing has had many influences through the years. I was born a year before Sputnik and by the time I entered my imagination to document my visions, astronauts were going into space. Science fiction TV was growing in popularity as was science fiction writing. I was inspired by Jules Verne and other classic science fiction writers. I loved to enter their universes and visualize being at the bottom of the ocean, or on the moon, or on some far-flung world centuries in the future.
I wrote plays in fourth grade that dealt with time travel aboard a time ship that was able to go back in time by circling the sun in the opposite direction of earth’s orbit. I was a general as were two of my friends. The one friend like my plays that I read because he was a general. I was bold enough to read my plays in front of the class and received praise from my classmates.
I also wrote poetry that my mom liked. I read some of my poems in public at reunions and in front of my classmates. But my parents didn’t understand science fiction and discouraged me from writing in that genre. That didn’t stop me from entering my favorite universe from time to time and jotting down what I experienced there.
I could never keep my thoughts to myself. If I didn’t write them down and share them with others, I most likely would have ended up frustrated or, God forbid, NORMAL. Being a writer is not a normal occupation. It’s like being an actor. There are millions of actors but few successful ones. They present a version of reality that is meant to entertain audiences and allow those that observe the performances to escape reality for awhile. The popular actors will be financially rewarded and their audiences will hopefully be pleased.
Actors often perform for free because they enjoy what they are doing and need the applause. Writers must be willing to offer their services and talent for free. For 45 years I have been doing that by writing letters to the editor from time to time. During the last six years I have submitted over 300 letters to my local newspaper that have been published. Most people who I have talked to that read my letters appreciate them.
As is the case for most writers, I have had many rejections. But they are a means to toughen me up and make me want to do better. My nearly 2000 pages of material I have left on the Internet has allowed me to share my visions of the future and the way I want things to be with the public. I welcome anyone who wants to enter my universe of the imagination because I long to have an appreciative audience.
Writers who say they write only to entertain themselves or they are afraid of public criticism are mental hermits. They are comfortable in a lonely universe they feel they need to control and the intrusion of spectators interferes with their desire to be by themselves. I long to have audiences enter my universe of the imagination and consider my thoughts and desires. I care about what people think of my writing. But if they reject my writing, they aren’t rejecting me. They are just rejecting the products of my imagination. I can live with that. The writer who thinks public rejection of their writing is rejection of them is like someone choosing to travel to New York City instead of Chicago and people misinterpret this choice as the person not liking Chicago. Writing may be a personal expression of what is in someone’s mind. But rejection of those expressions shouldn’t be taken personally.
As long as the universe of the imagination exists and its growing population of characters keeps expanding and their words and actions are worth sharing with the public, I’ll keep entering that universe and taking those who want to observe the lives of those characters to worlds and dimensions that at times might seem familiar while at other times seem as foreign and mysterious as an unseen planet in a distant galaxy. As long as readers want to enter my personal universe, I’ll be an eager tour guide at their service.