“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
While I have been a huge fan of the short story for most of my life, digging into stuff by Ring Lardner, Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, Stephen King, Flannery O'Connor and Mark Twain, I came to know Ray Bradbury late in life.
It wasn't until my thirties that my eldest daughter discovered, with some amount of shock, that I'd never read Fahrenheit 451 (or ANY Bradbury, for that matter) and insisted that I remedy that immediately, if not sooner. I borrowed the book on CD from my beloved library and was, as anyone should be, smitten. After the book was over, Recorded Books presented an interview with Bradbury in which he talked about, among other things, his first encounter with Aldous Huxley, in which he ordered tea when what he really wanted was coffee. I loved that story, and it got my brain going, got me imagining the scene in my head--Bradbury, this young, virtually unknown writer scared out of his wits and longing for a cup of hot coffee, and Huxley, a literary giant, so confidently sipping as he sums Bradbury up in a surprising way.
I could see it all playing out right in front of me.
Then Bradbury said, during the interview, that when a short story comes into your mind, you have to write it immediately, because it has been given to you at that time and that place to be written by you. And so, after having felt for years that if I were going to write, it had to be a novel, beginning one and then another and then another with no sign of completion, Bradbury told me, as if he were speaking directly to me, that I needed to write a short story. Now. And it was to be about him.
And so I did.
When it was completed, I submitted my short story, Bradbury, to the Wayne Regional Writing Awards. It took first place. In fact, all three pieces I submitted took first place. I was told it was the first time that has happened in the history of the awards.
Then came an avalanche of ideas, a series of short fiction that practically attacked me at every turn, stories about regret and lack thereof, about people faced with making choices that might not seem wise or popular, but are the only reasonable ones for these folks, at this time, to make. And no one else can make them for them.
The characters sprang to life for me. Bradbury himself, of course, with his unique verbal pause. But also Marge, with her lid-skipping eyeliner and furcated loyalties. And Arnold, anchored to the soil but called by the sea. And Daniel, trying as hard as he can not to be bugged by that nasty Roger Wheeler's incessant hacking cough assaulting him daily as he sits captive in his cubicle.
When Bradbury died in June of 2012, I knew I had to pull these pieces together into a collection and publish them. After many sessions with my beloved group, the Killbuck Valley Writers' Guild, I have, with their guidance, shaped and crafted and polished and prepared these pieces. And now, they are ready for you.
But my goal with this Kickstarter is not just to publish my writing, but also to deal out these stories to a handful of my amazing visual artist friends, asking them each to illustrate one tale. Those illustrations will appear alongside the pieces, a collaboration between visual artist and writer, to be printed in these first 200 copies. The original pieces will be offered as incentives for the fabulous folks who fund the project.
I'm excited about this thing, I tell you. It's been in the works for awhile and, as Steve Jobs and Seth Godin have said, it's time to ship it.
So I've created a Kickstarter (it's where I ask people to have enough faith in me to pitch in a dollar or two to bring the project to fruition). I've been honored by the backers who have taken the plunge already (thank you, backers!). I've been thrilled to see backers I don't even know invest in me. That's huge. And I've been ecstatic to have the support of people like Jeff Goins, a writer who has been very inspirational to me, who chose to be so generous with his time and resources as to tweet about the project.
Fan of Ray Bradbury? Here's a cool Kickstarter project: bit.ly/XKL8lU— Jeff Goins (@JeffGoins) March 30, 2013
So, as I wrote in my first update, I've created my own inciting incident, and there's no going back now. I'd like for you to come along with me, if you're willing. You can go here and view the project video and updates, to get a sense for what I'm hoping, with your help, to do. If you feel so inclined, toss in a buck or two. If you're feeling especially benevolent, share the link on your blog, Facebook page or face-to-face with your real, live friends. I'm excited about where this is going, and I'd like you to be a part of it. Thanks for your time!