So the question of the day, “Hey, Glenn, who inspires your writing?”
First off, I’m lucky to say that I’ve never been inspired by the writer of “Pay To The Order Of…” I’ve never written for need of money, though I’ve certainly written for want of it. I’ve always found myself unable to write anything with any poetry in the words if I need funds, it saps a certain spark out of the language. Oh sure, I can craft words and make serviceable prose, but the magic isn’t there.
That said, who inspires me? Let me tell you a story…
I grew up, as so many of my contemporaries did, in a sort of Golden Age of science fiction– Star Trek was in reruns on channel 11, Star Wars was in the movie theaters, and new sf and near-sf shows were coming up all over the place like Space:1999 and Ark II and Star Blazers, and I could read the Legion of Super Heroes and Green Lantern and Guardians Of The Galaxy. And my father got me reading books early, reading the Foundation Trilogy when I was seven and back when it was still a trilogy.
But I was growing up in 70s suburbia. I couldn’t figure out how I could get from a Long Island bedroom into outer space, how to insert myself in all of these strange and wonderful worlds. Even New York City was a long way away for a kid, and it was a scary place then, filled with all the dangers the newspapers could tell us about. I felt like Luke on Tatooine, as far away from the action as possible.
Then I was introduced to Spider Robinson, and the most famous of his works, the stories centered around Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon– where all those strange and wonderful things were happening in a bar on Route 25A in Suffolk County.
Well, heck– I lived in Suffolk County, I lived on 25A! That place must have been just down the road from me! The advice given to writers is “write what you know”, Spider was writing what I knew.
And so I read the stories about the talking dogs and time travelers, and the aliens and the absurd puns, and the people and the community they built, all the while looking for clues as to where exactly the place was. Because that was accessible. I could make the leap from where I was to the fantastic, to the future. It was, quite literally, the gateway.
Through Spider I was introduced to Robert Heinlein’s works among many others, and through his own writings I was introduced to characters who I might have easily passed in the supermarket and just hadn’t been introduced to yet, real people with flaws and quirks and horrible cases of paronomasia. And many years later, I got to meet Spider and his lovely wife Jeanne, and we told each other stories and sang songs, and he was just about exactly like his writing had shown himself to be. His authorial voice was true to himself, and I was proud to publish an electronic version of Night Of Power back in the 90s.
Spider’s had a bit of a rough patch of late, including a heart attack about six weeks ago. So I’m glad to have a chance to put down in writing what I’ve mentioned to him before, to thank him for showing how to get from Kansas to Oz.
If you’ve never done so, go read some books from Spider Robinson right now.