Stories. Gotta love 'em.
This will sound corny, but I really believe it: Stories are holy. And bear in mind, I'm not a religious guy. But a good story feels like a transcendental experience to me. It invigorates me and makes me feel giddy and light-headed.
I love stories.
This is a difficult thing to explain to someone who doesn't share that passion. Don't try, that's my advice. They'll only look at you sideways, maybe take a step back. Whatever. Who needs them?
Who needs them, as long as we have stories.
I remember quite vividly the first time I ever experienced that nirvana, that perfect state. It was a story by Ray Bradbury called "There Will Come Soft Rains"-- a story that is as close to perfect as anything I've ever read. I remember the odd feeling that began creeping over me as Bradbury very gently pulled me in... as if he was whispering in my ear, look. Watch, very closely. Don't move. And I watched, and I was mesmerized. And the story built, gaining speed, and I gripped that book hard so I wouldn't be shorn away by the wind. And the ending... God, the ending. It gave me chills. It made me want to weep for its tragic beauty. I could not have predicted it, and yet at the same time no other ending would have been possible.
And that was when I first knew the power of story. That was when I knew I had to do this. I had to make someone else feel that way.
That was a long, long time ago. I'm a much more cynical human being than I was then. I have doubts about the validity of almost everything that we as a race hold dear, everything that we attach value to. But not story. I still believe in story.
There have been many stories since then that moved me, more than I can count. Fear, anger, grief, happiness-- I've felt them all deeply through someone else's words. 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber' and 'A Day's Wait' and 'The End of Something' by Ernest Hemingway. 'The Whosis Kid' and 'The Girl With the Silver Eyes' by Dashiell Hammett. 'Young Goodman Brown' by Nathaniel Hawthorne. 'The Crowd' by the above-mentioned Mr. Bradbury. 'A Rose for Emily' by William Faulkner. Almost every story in Everything's Eventual, by Stephen King. And on and on and on, stories by John D. MacDonald and Robert Bloch and Lawrence Block and Fletcher Flora and Neil Gaiman and jeez, man... so many.
I wish I could mention them all. I wish I could express to each one of these fine writers how much they've touched my life, how deep a change they've wrought within me.
And how much love they've given me for stories.