Sunday, November 28, 2010

Princesses and Iced Tea

People ask me, “Larry, how do you come up with this stuff?”
My stock answer is, “I don’t know. I just do.”
But actually, I do kinda know—with imagination and practice.
For instance, a major league baseball pitcher throws thousands of balls a year to earn his place on the mound, and a quarterback doesn’t hit a receiver with pin-point precision accidentally.
I’ve been exercising my imagination since I was young, and it began with iced tea. I didn’t know what caffeine was at the time, how it affects you, or how you get it.
Apparently, my mother didn’t either.
I drank the amber refreshment year round and well into the evenings. Many nights, I knew I wouldn’t fall asleep but didn’t know why. Those nights I’d toss and turn and rearrange until I eventually drifted off.
Soon, I began making up stories instead of executing bedtime gymnastics. I slew dragons and shot it out with gangsters. I climbed mountains, fought pirates, rescued people from bank robberies, and rode dinosaurs.
As I grew older and my interests changed, so did my stories. I rescued damsels in distress, wooed princesses, and fought for the hand of many fair ladies. I struggled through championship games, receiving the winning touchdown pass or making a last-minute, impossible basket to win the game.
Then I began planning the stories I would play in my head that night based on something that happened during the day or something I saw on TV. I’d think about what could happen, and why, and how the other characters would react. Something big always happened, and something was always at stake—and I was always the main character.
My bedtime stories evolved into daydreams, and those daydreams have found their way onto paper or the computer screen. My “imagination muscle” has been exercised enough through the years that it kicks into action at the slightest urging. And now I’m co-writing a novel. That’s how I “come up with that stuff.”
And it all began with a glass of iced tea.

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