I have to say I'm having a blast with this project. Even in the few weeks since the launch of this thing, which started as a kernel of an idea and then kicked its way boldly into being, I've come into contact with some of the most kindhearted people, like Cathy, who met Bradbury project artists Devin and Danielle while camping on a beach in Texas. Cathy looked up the project and backed it, bless her heart. Or Leah, a fellow Bradbury fan. And then there's Barbara Brabec who maintains a fabulous website just packed full of information for writers, especially those interested in self-publishing. Barbara and I spent an hour-and-a-half on the phone and became kindred spirits within the first few words. The wealth of information she shared with me, along with her genuine interest, curiosity and encouragement, were treasures beyond measure.
Those are just the highlights. I've experienced a whole scad of encouraging and uplifting moments--feedback from friends, backing from loved ones, the project's goal reached--and exceeded--with two weeks yet to go. I've even had a few of those "it's-beyond-me" bits that give a person that little extra inspiration to get going. Like the little nods from Mr. Bradbury himself, it seems. Sending a salamander into one of my stories and then slyly presenting himself on the creature's Wikipedia entry. Popping into the first two podcasts I downloaded, completely at random, from Selected Shorts (where I dare to dream my own stories will someday find favor). Slipping into conversation where he hadn't before. It's wonderfully erie and terrifically encouraging.
Inspiration comes, too, from my backers, from the communication I have with each of them, old friends and folks I've just met through this project. Some of them are dear friends I see daily. Some are as far away as Auckland, Dubai, Moscow and Salamanca. They're all invited to have input in the project.
In fact, one of the incentives I offered was the chance for backers to name a character in one of the stories. Some were even given the option to suggest a couple of traits for their character that might or might not be worked into the story.
One by one, I have received the names of characters--Wally and Summer, Sharon and Larry, Martha and Peter--and each time they come, each one that introduces her or himself, they almost immediately insert her or himself into one of the already-written stories, as if that piece has been waiting, waiting, waiting just for them to arrive to finally be complete.
Okay, so maybe it's just me, but I was pretty blown away by that.
And the illustration ideas! Oh, MY!
Deanna came back with an incredible concept for "The Giant on Bus #5" that completely floored me with its creativity and enthusiasm about her part of the project.
"I'm SO glad you chose this story for me," she said. "I love hair. It's one of my obsessions."
And Caroline sent me her preliminary sketches of "To Hit a Moving Target" which were just as whimsical and elemental as they should be.
Paul took me completely by surprise with a very accurate summary of the metaphors in "Undercurrent," isolating a particular moment in the story that he called "very haunting." His idea completely portrays what I was hoping it would convey with the piece.
"There are a lot of great metaphors in this story," Paul said about "Undercurrent." "It has been sticking with me and unraveling since I read it."
Kristin accepted the challenge of stepping outside her comfort zone to illustrate "Blessed Assurance," a piece that also challenged--and is still challenging--me in its creation. Here's a snippet of what she'll be working on:
"An ink sketch of a small shack-style house. Two windows, small front porch, light shining out from within, a blue light, and the window pane is in a subtle cross shape. The house, although a bit run down, unkempt and alone on the outside, has a glimmer of light that shines within. For me, illustrating this story--I love the symbolism of this image."
And Danielle, sweet, sweet Danielle, sent me some great preliminary sketches that are absolutely perfect for "The Dress in the Window," a story that, as of yet, is still just rattling around in my head but will soon make its way to the page. Danielle took the nuggets I gave her, the primary struggles and temptations of the protagonist in all of her irresponsible silliness, and created exactly the image I'd hoped she would.
As for me, I'm working on several of the stories that were yet unfinished. I wake each morning (and, sometimes, in the middle of the night), struck by an idea that slides perfectly into a plot, lends itself absolutely to a character, or weaves a new element into a piece to give it just what it needed. I haven't written like this for...well, for years.
Thanks to you, to all of you, for this gift. Whether you've shared the project on your Facebook page, tweeted about it (Shout out to writers Jonathan Gunson and Jeff Goins for spreading the word! Be sure to visit their pages for great resources and motivation for writers), talked to folks on the beach about it, or backed it with your hard-earned cash at any level, I thank you every single day.
Check out the project on Kickstarter, and, if you're feeling especially zippy, toss in a buck or three.