I tasted death. A series of mini-strokes on December 30, 2012, four days in the hospital, buckets of cost later and I am not the same. We only have so much time, and I have so much to do.
I was born a storyteller. By the time I was six and beginning to read and write, my imagination overflowed with other worlds and other times. I discovered the greatest story ever told and it captured my heart. Story became my way of expressing myself and to both explore and understand the world. If I had been born in a tribal society I would have had an honored seat at the campfire, but by 1960 my world had already lost the time, patience and interest in tales of the imagination. Movies were spewing out stories with an overabundance of romance or for the special effects and a chance to blow things up. Nothing was to be gained by those.
By the time I reached sixth grade, I was scribbling ideas, notes and drawings, tales of the imagination, and found I was drawn to adventures such as boys used to love. Verne, Wells, Haggard, Stevenson, yes Dickens and Twain. Of course I loved Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams and really all of the Inklings. I searched the deep past and found Homer, Virgil, Beowulf, Bunyan and Swift and discovered that Oz, Never Land, Wonderland and The Back of the North Wind were never far away. I found the writers of the Golden age of Science Fiction, E. E. Doc Smith and the rest, and writers of my own early age from Addams to Zelazny – too many to count. These sustained me in the wilderness, and the wilderness is where I went after high school.
I had boxes, files and an entire desk full of ideas, with some stories, some book beginnings and a play or two. I was the boy, ready to start my adventure. If just one person believed in me and my stories, the whole universe might have turned in a different direction. But no. The enormous pressure to do college, to find work, to have a family and then die was upon me, and I did not have the backbone to follow my heart. I spent most of the last 40 years in some position or other where I could tell stories and express my tales of truth and glory, but my time belonged to others, to the grind that ate life and to the silent tears that cried out, “This is not what I am supposed to be doing with my life.” If I say I wasted the last 40 years in the wilderness I would not be lying.
Then I tasted death. I am near 60 and on more medication than I can name, but the stories have not gone away. They have strengthened to where now I no longer have the will to escape the words. I have no doubt I will write furiously until I die and still not get all of the stories written.
Somewhere in my wilderness years publishers invented a new category of fiction: (middle-grade)/Young Adult. But this fine idea has been taken over presently by sparkly romances and the Princess collection because young women read. The heroine saves the city, the world, the universe in a thin plot whose main purpose is to bring two people together so they can fall in love. I am sure there are plenty of young women who enjoy reading what Paganini would call variations on a theme.
At the same time, I have heard over and over that young men don’t read. The back of my mind screams Potter, Unfortunate Events, Olympians, but the front of my mind says it is not worth arguing with agents and publishers that there is still a market for the likes of Robert Heinlein, James Blish or John Brunner. I don’t have ten years to devote to such arguments and nonsense. What? So I can see something in print when I am 70?
Instead, we have all gone digital. So will I. I can start putting stories up for E-readers and POD books and maybe audio books fairly quickly. My sons are talking about the possibility of reworking the Avalon series into comic book form. We will build a website, do some book promotions on film for YouTube, and probably participate in giveaways through Amazon Select. Of course, if you actually buy the works I will be grateful. My life has not exactly been one to include much money or much success. Perhaps because my heart was not in it. But let me be clear: my job is not to get lost in social media and dubious promotions. My job to get as many of these stories finished as possible before I die.
I will do my best to keep you up-to-date as time slides by.
Meanwhile, on this blog I am going to start posting Avalon, season 2 as a Monday, Wednesday, Friday post. God willing I won’t suffer a relapse or be that one-in-three who suffers a massive stroke and becomes completely incapacitated. If you are so inclined, pray for me. I am finally doing what I am supposed to be doing with my life. Let us hope there are still enough years to do it.