My spare time, only, is occupied in literary efforts. I never allow them to interfere with either my business or social life.
In composing, in a mysterious way, I comprehend the companionship of my imaginary friends as vividly as I do the material associates of life. To me imagination is the counterpart or result of inspiration, while inspiration is light thrown upon the unrevealed. The image may be the result of known or unknown cause, but the mystery does not blot out the actual existence of the image. The material image we call sight, the retained memory, and the unknown revelation, but all are comprehensive images.
My great-great grandfather Merrick Abner Richardson wrote and privately published a half-dozen books. He grew up in New England but spent most of his life in Chicago, where much of my family on my father’s side still lives. He made some money in tin and lived pretty well. And of course you’d have to live pretty well to privately publish books.
The above excerpt is from his autobiography, Looking Back, which was published in 1917. I have a copy, like most of the other people in my family. I’m going to say he printed 500 or so and there are probably 30 or so left, 100 years later. Inside of my copy of Looking Back is a mint condition ticket to the 1892 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. I think it was used as a bookmark. I treasure the book and the ticket. I wrote a little about the ticket here.
I get a charge out of this excerpt, and the fact that he was thinking about consciousness and memory 100 years ago and also wrote for fun his spare time, just like I am doing right now. Great-great grandfather probably seems pretty distant, but my father’s name is also Merrick Abner Richardson and this person has assumed a central role in family lore.
One odd thing about Looking Back is that since it has entered the public domain and has been scanned by archive.org and google books, anyone can sell a copy of it. So there are people on Amazon selling re-prints of my great-great-grandfather’s book and I’m quite sure no one in my family knows a thing about it. I’m also quite sure no one in their right mind would pay $27 for this book. But you can buy it for $0.99 on Kindle.