October 20, 2013

Why I Write…

[Post by Matthew Williams / Image by Beginte]
I can remember with some interest how, as a child, I would spend hours making things out of plasticene, or using mismatched toys from different franchises to construct large armies and sagas. And then, when I was old enough to have a sense of the aesthetic, I began to draw, and draw, and draw… In time, my love of RPG’s and video games made me want to create some of those too. It was never enough to just enjoy them on their own. Somehow, I always needed to create, recreate, or bring the things I liked best together in one place, where they could coexist on my own terms.

This went on for many years, until the day came that I began to take a serious interest in the written word. My mother always wanted me to take up recreational reading, partly in the hopes that I would follow in her footsteps, but also because everyone needs to go beyond the stuff they make you read in school, otherwise you’re simply missing out. Her attempts met with little success, but by the age of 16, I discovered spy and military fiction as well as sci-fi novels. A trend was born!

In the years that followed, my interests matured and grew, to the point where my mother got her wish and I began reading the classics of western literature. I came to love books that captured the spirit of their times, that embodied the essence of change, revolution, disillusionment and aspiration that so often come with major upheaval. These included Chaucer, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Fitzgerald, and Highway, as well as post-colonial authors such as Achebe, Thiogo, and Emechita. But alas, my favorites were still in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. Authors such as Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell, Tolkien, Gibson, Stephenson and George RR Martin were the most influential for me. Fictioneers who created entire worlds and universes and speculated about what was to come in the distant and not-so-distant future. These authors were the ones who captured my imagination and inspired me to want to create again. In fact, it was after reading Orwell’s 1984 that I began to truly aspire to create something like-minded. It was not so much a desire to create a dystopian novel, but rather a book that succeeded in capturing the spirit of the modern age so effectively.

And so it began… For years, I tried to generate ideas, unsuccessfully of course. However, in time the effort paid off. By 2004, I began to put ink to paper and kept what I wrote. Once more, I found that science fiction was my method of choice and my muse. I was always so impressed with how one could draw on personal experience and their own imagination to create entire universes, the purpose of which was to draw allegories to the real world, real history, and to make certain universal points about the human condition. As a friend of mine remarked once, “science fiction is not so much a genre as a vehicle.” The point of it is to deliver a message, and not be constrained by the limits of today’s means or the author’s own direct experience. It is a vehicle made by dreamers, designed to inspire, agitate, and provoke, and to make people see beyond the current day and age and think on things both timeless and impending.I began with Legacies, a science fiction universe that takes place in the distant future. That was followed by Source, a dystopian novella where humanity begins to run out of the most precious resource of all (water!). 

Ideas for many short stories, novellas, and full-length novels followed. I joined writing groups, I entered NaNoWriMo on more than one occasion, and I even committed to the self-publishing route. And, on the advice of my mentor, Fraser Cain (co-founder of Universe Today.com), I created a website to share my writing, my inspirations and my ideas with others. Though it took several months before I attracted the kind of following I was looking for, I have never once regretted going public. In fact, the website bears my family name and says it all: storiesbywilliams! It a forum committed to my desire to tell a story, though based on something truly real, and with the hopes of sharing that story with the world.All of this has allowed me to collaborate with other writers, both independent and traditionally published, and to improve my craft in ways I never thought possible. It is my hope that, before I die, I can create at least one novel that truly captures the zeitgeist, and to have something of a collaborative nature (such as the anthology myself and my peers are working on) published and recognized. The way I see it, none of us are in this alone, and when one of us gets there, it is incumbent upon them to help others to realize that goal as well.Though my success has been modest, I can only say this for myself. So far, so good. We shall see what the future holds…  
Why do you write stories? Whats the reason behind your book?

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