Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by David Michael Williams.
About the author:
David Michael Williams has suffered from a storytelling addiction for as long as he can remember. With a background in journalism, public relations, and marketing, he also flaunts his love affair with the written word as an author of speculative fiction. His most recent books include the sword-and-sorcery trilogy The Renegade Chronicles. The Soul Sleep Cycle, a genre-bending series that explores life, death, and the dreamscape, debuts on Jan. 30, 2018, with the release of If Souls Can Sleep.
About If Souls Can Sleep:
First he lost his daughter. His mind may be next.
After years of being haunted by the day his little girl drowned, Vincent faces a new nightmare, one that reaches into the real world and beyond the grave.
If Souls Can Sleep introduces a hidden world where gifted individuals possess the power to invade the dreams of others. Two rival factions have transformed the dreamscape into a war zone where all reality is relative and even the dead can’t rest in peace.
GUEST POST: The best books make readers want to become writers by David Michael Williams
We all begin as oblivious victims.
Maybe it happened when you were a child, cracking open the cover of a surreal Seussian story. Or maybe the transformation transpired during adolescence when you first confronted the consciousness-expanding, mind-bending narratives of that pantheon of authors who enthrall the human psyche with the outlandish and otherworldly.
Whatever the circumstances, the books you’ve explored have changed you. You are a reader. Moreover, you are a reader of fantasy and science fiction.
Oh, the words on the page seem innocuous enough. It’s just fiction, after all. But make no mistake: you’ve been infected by imagination.
And I’m sorry to report that sometimes creativity is contagious.
We can blame it on the fact that so many sci-fi and fantasy series ensnare us with a powerful first installment, followed by compelling sequel after sequel. These series engulf us, beckoning for us to settle in and stay a while. We don’t mind. Why would we want to leave?
When one book ends, there’s always another story to sample. Another author with which to become acquainted. Another world to discover.
But beware. Something insidious could be occurring inside you. In between literary adventures—between one chapter and the next—you might find yourself accosted by musings about the author and about authorhood itself.
Then the insidious thought surfaces: “Maybe I can do this.”
Little wonder we find ourselves inspired. Visiting other people’s worlds is a lot of fun. So wouldn’t it be even more fun, then, to create our own?
After reading so many books, you can’t help but learn a thing or two along the way. You’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. You probably even came up with alternate endings. Yes, maybe osmosis is enough. And maybe, just maybe, we have a story of our own worth telling.
In fact, isn’t it your duty to contribute our content, having solely consumed for so long? You want to give back after so many years of taking. Call it conservation.
Besides, you love books. What could be more intoxicating than seeing your name on a spine or two, joining the conclave of esteemed writers who have come before you?
The fame…the money…
Some of you have already learned this simple truth: writing is harder than it looks. Let me rephrase that: writing well is harder than it looks.
For every book stacked on your shelves, there are dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of stillborn stories that make it no further than Chapter 1. Many beginners become paralyzed because their first (or second or third or tenth) draft sounds nowhere as polished as our favorite author’s prose.
We get discouraged. We quit. We return to the cherished worlds of more experienced wordsmiths.
That’s the best-case scenario.
Don’t believe me? Consider these challenges:
- Writing a worthy novel takes an incredible amount of talent and time. Commitment to the craft could leech years of your life. Are you prepared for countless hours in front of your keyboard?
- Even if you finish your masterpiece, you will need to find a way to get your words out into the world. Traditional publishing has been in a tumultuous state for years. It’s The Battle of the Five Armies, only with more avarice and worse odds of success. If you think your beloved protagonist’s quest is brutal, well, you haven’t seen anything yet.
- “But wait,” you might be thinking, “we live in a DIY universe. Self-publishing to the rescue!” Well, you are right inasmuch as anyone with a completed manuscript, a cover of some kind, and a tincture of tech-savviness can birth their creation into an overpopulated and often uncaring world. How will compete with the droves of other dabblers? How will your voice be heard above the other readers who were bitten by that lethal writing bug?
- Writing, publishing, creating — these activities can become incredibly addictive. Even with marginal encouragement and conservative results, you might find yourself coming back for more punishment because this time you might get lucky.
Inspiration isn’t a gift. In the domain of science fiction, it’s a virus; in a realm a fantasy, a curse. If you’ve avoided those five fearful words (“Maybe I can do this”), consider yourself fortunate—but remain wary!
However, if you’ve fallen under the spell of the cruel goddess of creativity, you have my sympathy. You can try to quit and hope the guilt doesn’t chew you apart. Or, like me, you can embrace your fate with the stubborn tenacity of the proverbial Chosen One.
Either way, we can always retreat to the comfort of a good story when the journey gets rough.