It was in 6th grade that we were first assigned weekly "themes" to write. Mine always wound up as short stories. I remember dad sitting in the sun room with me, reminding me that if someone leaves one place in a story, he has to get to the next place: he can't just suddenly pop up.

     The themes were extremely imaginative. I wish I found it so easy, these days, to think of ideas. This faculty remained available, but after 8th grade it had a consequence I felt at the time to be untoward. My parents informed me--they did not ask me--that I was going to spend the coming summer at the Phillips Academy prep school in Andover, Massachusetts.

     That meant leaving my first girl friend behind. That's another story. The redeeming feature of the summer was "Short Story Reading and Writing", a course with Mr. Emory Basford, an elderly, white-haired gentleman who could have played the film role of Mr. Chips. Mr Basford was the first person I met who breathed literature. "Try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost," he quoted Henry James. However dimly, I absorbed this way of life. However self-consciously, I tried to be a sensitive person, and also carried out the assignment of writing three stories.

     Mr. Basford quoted someone who said "You're a writer if you feel like going up and grabbing someone, saying, "The most extraordinary thing happened!"--in other words, if what you have to say about life is bursting out of you. Many years passed before I really felt that way. The ship of my life had to first leave the port of its upbringing and begin to get a sense of what the world is about. Before long, I'd lost the moorings of that old life. You know that Andre' Gide saying: "In order to discover new lands, it is necessary to be out of sight of land altogether for long periods at a time."

     The journey, though, is also a transformation, which itself conveys "something to say". Stories have flowed out of me for many years now. I've made an audio tape, INSIDE JOBS: Stories for Adults and Other Kids, that's still available. Lately I've beena focusing mostly on children's stories, which keep alive the domains of magic and simplicity.

     Here are a few "collected short stories":

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