I have a knack for seeing stories around me and can form them from different objects, places, and images I’ve never seen before. If something makes me pause to consider them or it, I can find the one thing—for me—that sparks a story. This is why I believe everything around us—every moment, every sound or song, that cuts through the background noise of our lives or fills the emptiness (if that’s the current state of things)—has an essence. Otherwise, it would remain buried in static or silence. I sense the ‘1,000’ words, more or less, inside and can bring it out. Over the last few years, I have dashed off dozens of stories (large and small) based on nothing but an image.
One day a reader sent me a picture of a distinctive tree, unlike others in its shape and the colors of its leaves, caught at sunset. The little tree stood alone. She—the fan—asked me, “Can you write something about this tree?” I could and did.
Not long after sharing that little story I got a message from another reader. “Dennis, I just read your story Born Different, and it made me cry. You see, I just lost my son, and he was so special. Everyone always talks about how he touched them and how they’ll never forget him. Your story was so like him. He was just himself and yet made everyone around him better and happier. May I share your story at his service?”
As I read her message I started tearing up, nothing touches me deeper than the loss of a child. And replied, “Of course. I’m flattered this little story has that much meaning for you.” I’m still moved remembering this. Since then she has been a constant reader and also become a friend. A month or so ago she contacted me again: “It’s coming up on the anniversary of my son’s passing. Do you have a print copy of Born Different in a book that I could use as part of a memorial for him?”
“It’s a brief story,” I replied, “not long enough to be in a printed book. But let me see if I can pull together some of my other stories that make a good theme and enough to collect and publish.”
I thought of other requests I’ve had from friends, family, and readers that turned into some of my favorite stories that had a common theme and message, but were also brief, short stories not suited to print by themselves. They would fit with Born Different, and I collected them along with some other writing and SEASONS PASS is the result. Following is a bit about how a half dozen of the stories came to be:
>Born Different: What I just told you above about the picture of the tree.
>Wings: A reader/fan sent me a picture of a mist-shrouded path in a forest and told me “I really like fairies.” And I knew that she had been going through difficult times as a single mother, with a child that required extra care and financial pressure. I wanted to create a story for her that touched on not just hope, but faith and self-determination. She cried when I shared it, but they were happy tears.
>The Ballerina in the Garden: A friend sent me a picture of an orchid that was shaped like a dancer and asked, “Dennis, what can you write about this?” I wrote about finding beauty—in an unlikely place—and how that helped bridge loneliness and to accept new surroundings.
>What the Wind Blew Away: This came about when going through my oldest daughter’s wedding album and seeing a picture of her friend who had recently passed away. I wrote this story for my daughter and her friend’s mother and father. It talks about how those we love deeply—even when they’re gone—are with us always.
>What You Can See Through Broken Glass: A friend told me a bit about how hard life had been for her and asked me to write something to help put it all in perspective. Life deals out difficulties—some seem insurmountable or are ones that sap the life from us—but looking at things differently, can shift the view and enable us to see how life can get better.
>The Sweetest Hours: A friend told me about going on a trip with her husband, involving snow and wine, that struck me as a ‘reconnect’ moment between two people that had been married for a long time. Note: the story is fiction and not based on my friend’s relationship with her husband. All I drew from her was ‘snow and wine’ and that premise of reconnection being important for couples that have been married for a long time. We should never take for granted those things we’ve had—been blessed with—for years. It’s about seeing things anew and appreciating them.
There are reasons and inciting moments, pictures or songs that led to everything in SEASONS PASS, but the above are perhaps the most heartfelt because they were written purposefully for others to celebrate faith, self-determination, love and healing: key things needed to get through life.
You can find out how to order (including signed copies) by the clicking link below. I hope you’ll check out SEASONS PASS, if not for yourself, then for family or friends who might enjoy something inspiring and uplifting.
You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.” –Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast