I love being a writer, something that allows me the opportunity to spend time with imaginary friends, some good, some truly evil. I quit trying to figure out where they come from. Instead, simply have fun with them. In fact, I am meeting some new characters today. I wonder what their story will be.
It began with my father. He introduced me to make-believe friends, a family of friendly ghosts. Coming out of the Great Depression, he needed to use his imagination when he didn’t have money for books. They may have been ghosts, but they weren’t scary to me. They were a fictional family of “Who Am I”, including aunts, uncles, cousins and more.
Seven decades later I can still hear his voice telling me about the father, Who am I, and his wife What am I. The children had names like Why am I, Where am I, and so on. What a challenge it must have been for hem to juggle names, places, and situations.
His talent was using that imagination of his. He made up those stories as he went along, used to improvising like the jazz musician he was. He closed his eyes and spoke with a soothing, reassuring voice. Reassured, my brother and I were soon asleep
His father, my grandfather, was an Ozark Mountain storyteller, spinning tales of the caves on his farm, describing them as hiding places once used by Jesse & Frank James’ gang. It didn’t matter to me if the stories were true or not. Those stories set fire to my imagination, creating images that emerged slowly over the years, finally igniting as my short stories and novels.
I owe them both. May my stories honor their legacy.
Don’t think it’s only about the men in my family, growing up with a mother who played professional basketball, a woman’s team sponsored by the Skelly Oil Company. She would have a hard time measuring 5’ 2” wearing shoes.
That was an environment that helped foster my crazy mind, a wild mind that discovered the joy of writing fifty years later in 1989.
I invite you to join in the conversation. If you are a writer, a place to share our writing experience. If you’re a reader, you place to ask, scold, or encourage us.