Foundations of my belief (part 2)

John over at helped me remember that not only reading, but also writing, has had a huge impact on what I believe. I thought I would actually write about this experience, and how it shaped me. I have written a collection of short stories that blend the spaces of SF and fantasy. It is in the strange marriage of these two genres, where the worlds of magic and theoretical science come together, that my imagination has always been most stirred.  To me, the two are one and the same thing, only in different contexts.

I wrote my first book – a 30 page mystery – when I was in 5th grade (about 10 years old?) and had finally mastered writing creatively. I followed it with another fantasy book that was around 100 pages in 6th grade where I illustrated the front cover and many pictures inside with pencil. Both these books were made by me taking 8.5×11 sheets of paper and folding them in half and using each half as a page, and I glued or stapled them together to make these books. But for my next book project, I felt that somehow, a normal book was just not interactive enough, so I wrote a 500-page choose-your-own adventure fantasy/sci-fi book that I could only fit into a binder. This book was wonderful to write… there seemed to be no end to the twists and turns I could go depending on your choice, and my imagination had no limits. I was heavily influenced by 50 or more choose-your-own adventure books I had read or purchased before that.

Around the time I was 13, I had read over 300 books, small or large, in these two genres. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I had no social life, and I read on average a book or two a week. Wanting to take storytelling to an even more interactive and detailed level where even my friends could get involved, I undertook a huge project of creating a Star-Wars roll-playing adventure game. I wrote and illustrated game starter manuals, creature manuals, and a weapon and equipment catalog. I designed and drew all kinds of spacecrafts, swords, guns, and equipment. I developed equations for roll-playing combat, and I wrote about 10 or so detailed story adventures that people could play through. In my early teens, I would hang out with friends playing this crazy game.

Also around age 13, I started writing short stories. At around age 15, I had developed a richly detailed science fiction world where I began to write stories that where set within it. This world was a combination of all my influences from my Discover magazine to all the sci-fi and fiction books I had read. It included detailed descriptions of inter, outer, and instable “in-between” dimensions, in reference to our own 3rd dimension. It was the instable “in-between” one, the one between the 3rd and the 4th, where the 3-dimensional world as we know it could partially exist, held my fascination. This in-between dimension I called the outer-dimension. It was saturated in visible and invisible ways by the 4th, a one that I can best describe as the spiritual, where time, distance, and matter were not constraints, and the beings, forces, and energy that came from there often invaded this one. Magic, the Force, worm holes cosmic strings, were all wild realities that existed here, and their use or interaction would wreck havoc upon this place. This in-between dimension could be accessed by people of earth from portals or dimensional cracks, which appeared to be random, but for some reason never where. Any time anyone crossed over in either direction, both worlds were drastically changed. My stories where about such occurrences.

Since I thought about this stuff all the time, I began dreaming about it all the time. Now thinking back, I think it was a strange combination of my dreams and my reading that formed this fantasy world, even without me thinking about it. Everything that happened in these dreams or in the stories I wrote from them never seemed to be by accident or chance, but seemed to be saturated with incredible importance and purpose. This is actually really hard to explain, but it seems that there was something going on behind the scenes. My dreams and stories were taking a life of their own, apart from my will or from my willful or directed imagination. I would often wake up in the morning and rush over to my desk to write down the dream, and I later would flesh it out and write a full short story based on it. I wrote book outlines for over 30 books this way. I ended up writing about 5 or 6 short stories about this world based on these dreams.

These stories were filled with people – usually struggling to make sense of this wild place – scared yet deeply fascinated, usually deeply in love with someone, and just awed by this world that they lived in. There was always hardship and evil to fight, of course. But the one thing about this world that I cannot explain well enough is that no matter what, there was this overall feeling of something behind it all – something that drenched all reality, that gave colors to the world, that gave life and endless beauty to its plants and trees and many places, that brought fire and romance to the hearts of men and women, that gave magic its strength, that gave men and women the passion to live and love with all their hearts.

My final writing was a strange one. By this time, I had read nearly 800 or more books and science fiction and fantasy short stories. At the time, I didn’t know why I wanted to write it, but it really moved me, and it also came from a very strong dream. I think I wrote it when I was 20 years old and in collage. I still have the story written down in my book of short stories. I’ll just summarize it below.

It was a 20 page short story about a young boy who grew up in a forest where his grandmother would read him a book of stories about a great land far away where there lived a beautiful princess. It was a land full of danger and adventure, full of tales of heroes and magic, of great courage and battles, of dragons and cities and forests that floated on the clouds. As exciting as they all were, the princess held the young boy’s heart captive. One day he left the cottage in the woods, and set out to find her. He wanted to find her, but he didn’t know how. How far away could she be? He started by asking the river near his house, and it told him she lived far away across the sea. The river took him as far as it could, and then the sea spoke to him and took him on further. The further and further this boy went, the more he drew all parts of nature to help him in his quest to find princess – the rivers, the seas, the clouds, the forests, each took the form of a sprite or nymph or something like that, but each had control over its domain, and did what it could to help the boy. Through many adventures, the boy finally reached the land where the princess lived. Such beauty he had never seen before- a land that was filled with life and and cities like he had never seen. He made his way to the palace, and finally, at the end of the day, he found the gardens where the princess was.

When she turned to look at him, the boy was stunned. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, so beautiful… he could hardly stand. Her eyes were filled with love, compassion, warmth – and spoke of something beyond the world and the skies and the forests and the seas – they had such depth, and contained such longing and invitation. He fell to his knees and could not speak a word. She smiled and said to him, “I have waited so long for you to come. You have come such a long way from your grandmother’s cottage.” She paused and looked at him with tears in her eyes, and finally said, “Come, stay with me forever.” The last thing I remember in my dream or in the story I wrote was that the boy was no longer a boy, but a man. His journey had lasted longer that my imagination showed, until now.

I know, cheesy you might be thinking. But if you can truly understand this story, you can understand me. At the time, I didn’t understand at all.

I eventually finished college, which I hated, and set out on my own. I left behind my friends and family and went to a place where I knew nobody and I was sure nobody would follow me. Not long after I moved to Rochester, I found myself in my new apartment. I had a great new job and a great car and a great apartment. I had everything I ever really wanted in life, but I was empty – I was missing something. It was that one fateful night that I will forever remember. Isn’t the last part of the journey always the hardest? At last, after 3 years, I finally overcame my final struggle, my final obstacle. I finally understood that dream, my last story. I had reached the city of the princess. I finally found Her.

    One Response to “Foundations of my belief (part 2)”


      Apparently this is what the esteemed Willis was talkin’ ’bout.

      Reply to this comment.

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