Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Own Worst Enemy - Brian Matthews - Biggest Aha! Moments in Writing

When it comes to writing, I’m my own worst enemy. Not long after I plop down in front of the computer, ready to dive into another project, than my ego shows up calling shotgun and breaking out the Lucky Strikes. Can you imagine him sitting there, hair slicked back into an evil-looking pompadour, cheap silk shirt open at the throat, and that damn cigarette hanging from his lower lip? He’s not nice, either. Not one bit. While you’re working, he’s eagerly whispering into your ear: “You call yourself a writer?” “Can’t you think of a better word?” “Nobody’s going to read that crap!” Soulless vampire that he is, ego can suck every creative juice out of you until you’re left staring at a blank computer screen and wondering if it’s not too late to change careers, like maybe a hot dog vender.

It wasn’t until I worked on a particular short story that I understood how badly ego impaired my writing.

I had already completed a piece called “Lament” for Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero, a William Gibson style, shared-world anthology. While most of the stories were loosely connected, the project called for a suite of stories that together formed the backbone of the Foreshadows universe. Unfortunately the author slated to write one of those stories had to drop out at the last minute. The editor approached me and asked if I would co-author it with him. The story, “Graveduggery,” was a complex, five-part piece whose narrative arc spanned several centuries. The premise interested me, as did the thought of working with the editor, an author I had admired for some time. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.

There was a catch, though. We had little time to finish it. I had to get cracking and churn out my parts. So I kicked ego to the curb and simply wrote.

What I ended up with was unlike anything I had written before. One sequence in particular—a mass prisoner escape from a Nazi concentration camp—still counts as one of my best writings to date. And that ended up being the biggest ‘ah-ha’ of my writing career: stop worrying about what you’re doing and, as one comic is fond of saying, “git ‘r done.”

Not only did this experience give me the confidence to continue writing—to feel in my heart that I could craft stories with a moderate amount of skill—it emboldened me to write a novel. Forever Man is out now and I couldn’t be prouder.



About Brian Matthews:

Brian W. Matthews came to writing later in life--roughly at the half-century mark, in fact. It was in the Fall of 2010 that he was approached to contribute a story to the cyberpunk multimedia anthology, Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero. He enjoyed that experience so much that he decided to try writing a novel. The result was his debut horror novel, Forever Man, which has garnered very positive reviews. His next book, Revelation, is the follow-up to Forever Man.

Brian hales from the southeast Michigan, where he still lives with his daughter. When he isn't writing, he is developing investment portfolios. During his off time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, golfing, reading, and playing guitar.

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