Monthly Archives: June 2011
As a youngster, I remember my mother staring at an odd-looking chart. It appeared to me as a huge fan. When I asked her what it was, she told me it was our family tree. I glanced at the diagram and having no idea what she meant, shrugged and ran outside to be with friends. Being young, I decided the doctors in my family must have been tree surgeons.
Later, I learned my mom had the chart out to add a date to the last line of her father’s entry. An idea which captured my attention. I became interested in tracing and identifying my ancestry. I followed the lines in those same charts my mother studied. The relationships fascinated me, and I discovered much about where my relatives originated.
Researching who begat whom, I realized a deficiency in the family tree concept.
Anyone can attest all lives are unique. My life, though unremarkable, proved anything but ordinary. I don’t expect where, when and to whom I was born, relationships to other entries on the chart, my marriage and children, combined with other rudimentary facts, to define me.
The diagram is a crude hologram of a larger family and shows, using brief notes, the only data available for almost everyone on the tree. The document displays enough facts to provide an overall image, yet each bit of a person’s life is a simple snapshot, distilling everybody’s existence to a few lines.
To infer the life of a person referenced on the table from three numbers and a few names is insufficient documentation and limits their story. You’re born to parents someplace on your birthday, perhaps you marry someone at sometime, and you may bear children. With a final note, you die on the recorded last day of life. Somewhere, between those dates, you saw a lifetime of experiences.
The facts entered on the diagram do nothing but anchor them to times and locations for the beginning and end of their journey.
Could eavesdrop on the ancestor, we’d learn their life mattered. Every day mattered. Their presence in the world did something to change history in some way. Science fiction stories offer frequent examinations to the extent small differences affect larger events.
By deliberating over the record, studying when and where each person lived, I attempted to relate them to textbook history to understand their world. I imagined how they interacted. Sometimes, other family members told pieces of person’s life stories in the tradition of anecdotes (sketchy understanding, third-hand facts, and interest generating hyperbole), carrying their experiences forward to amaze another generation.
I sought the truth about their life and their reaction to, and influence on, events of the time and the reciprocal effect on their being, generating many questions.
How did experiences in their youth mold their understanding of their world? I heard some became well educated, but in what fields. I found signs showing some fought in wars, and I researched the eras to sense what they experienced. I wondered about their own expectations for their lives. What made them shift toward good or bad, achieve failure or success, confront happiness or despair.
I contemplated over what drove them. I imagined experiences causing them sorrow and the stories behind those times. What events gave them pride and the thoughts or people who humbled them. What were their values and how were they justified?
Nothing came to me. The tree held against recorded history, offered a bit of insight but didn’t provide a complete testimony for a person who trudged through each day for 30 to 108 years. I could fabricate stories to satisfy my curiosity, but my fiction wasn’t being fair to them.
My journey through life has provided many exciting tales, which I discovered engross many people. I would bet you can agree the same is true for yourself. The experiences you get from living, are what make you what you are. Incidences, frustration, boredom, and conflict are what create “you.” Once a person dies, using the charts and our existing system of recording history, most stories die, too.
When I wrote “Field of Orbs,” I sought to present a world of people who discovered a way to fix the problem by recording their daily life. In most cases, nonstop. The idea is to record their existence using a small portable device. These logs become their life story.
“Life-Logs,” unavailable to the present generation, allow future generations to understand and enjoy the experiences of their ancestors. This way, the ancestors don’t become a three-line entry on a big chart. Their progeny can discover a tangible someone who lived a life, allowing the story of their life to mesmerize every subsequent generation, using the person’s own words.
Compulsion, opportunity, fascination, and thirst for understanding drove me to write this story.
“Field of Orbs” started with a single question. “Why are we here?”
I know every sentient being, since standing became a fad, has asked the same question. Some have offered responses, either transcendental or hard science. Neither is satisfying. Too many things made no sense to me. I wanted a different answer, so I searched for my own.
I spent several years mulling the idea until understanding finally surfaced. The inspiration fascinated me, and I realized I discovered a story to tell.
How would I tell it? I had no clue, but the more I thought about the answer, the stronger my compulsion grew to put my thoughts to paper. My commitment wasn’t complete because my life overflowed with distractions, and writing demands contemplation and introspection, right?
A few years after I realized the potential of my initial concept, my job changed, requiring I work remote from my family. With no television or internet available, I had many hours of free time every day with nothing to do. Distractions vanished.
At first, I read several books I had put off. However, my growing apathy made me realize I needed something more fulfilling. I decided to try writing a short story relating to the idea I had.
I wrote two short stories. Though they trended toward my earlier thoughts, their themes didn’t relate to each other, nor did they directly address the concept I began developing. I considered them a part of a broader framework.
On completion, I sent them around to my family and some friends. The responses were positive, and I had several people request more.
Thus began my dedication to writing. I went underground and offered nothing more for several years as I researched technology, sciences, and constructed a framework on which I could hang the story. The writing was my secret life, and the story became the world where I lived when I wasn’t working. Addiction is a close description of how I worked on the book. My secret obsession.
The story mesmerized me. I found myself an observer, taking notes. The text jumped from my fingers and appeared on my screen where I experienced the character’s lives as a voyeur. I felt their hopes, their love, their frustration, their sadness, and their terror. Not as I did while reading other books, but as a citizen of their world.
When the ending revealed itself, my elation went meteoric, and the chapters flowed onto the pages with almost no effort. The feeling transcended epic!
The answer to the question is simple. Once I had the opportunity, I had to do it. I felt everyone needed to know what happened in the lives of these people and they selected had to write their story.
Do I appear crazy? Until you read the entire story, you have no idea.