First things first: pronounced WALL-drone. Possibly originally a Dutch name, my pocket-size Woordenboek Nederlands-Engels offers few clues about its meaning, except that wal can mean coast or shore. And droom means dream (if a masculine noun); or vision, phantasm, illusion (if neuter).

I’ve wanted to be a science fiction writer (or, to punctuate that more correctly, SCIENCE! FICTION!! WRITER!!!) since age twelve. I long ago lost my feeble efforts from that time, but I vividly recall sitting in my father’s office after hours, rows of extinguished fluorescents overhead, poking at the IBM Selectric with both index fingers, and sometimes even a thumb. And the smell of Wite-Out! (Reading the label, I was surprised to learn that it was made in nearby Burtonsville, Maryland.) The slightly sticky feel of erasable bond! The hum and rumble of the Selectric and the way it made the whole desk vibrate ever so slightly! The whir-thunk when the ball-head struck the paper! The machine was adjusted for making triple carbons, so it punched little holes through all the periods, and the page held up to the dim light was like a sky full of unknown constellations.

Many intervening interventions intervened. This is called living one’s life.

I decided to try again.

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