The Story Only You Can Write
I’ve often pondered a challenge issued by Filipino writer and poet, Francisco Arcellana: “Write the story that only you can write.” Why do people write? And what makes someone decide to write a book? I’ve come up with a simple answer: People write because they have something to say. They feel compelled to share their stories, exposing fragments of who they are and what they’ve experienced through words on a page. Taking this theory a step further, I believe that each individual has a unique story to tell that belongs only to them.
The two books I’ve published thus far are speculative fiction works derived from my own hopes, fears, and experiences. Most writers can’t help revealing themselves through their stories. They often write about people they’d like to meet and places they’d like to go, or in contrast, they may instead write about people or places they despise. Real and fictional desires and choices determine the path of our narratives, because we are our stories.
The origins of Scattering Stars go back almost fifty years. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher showed the class an Asian folktale that has always haunted me. It’s the story of a young princess who’d been left behind when her family had visited the Earth. As I recall, the princess is too young to remember who she is and where she comes from. She grows up to be a kind and beautiful young woman but carries a secret longing in her heart for another place, never feeling like she belongs on Earth. The day finally comes when her parents return to take her home, and her true identity is revealed. She joyfully reunites with her family and departs to fulfill her destiny. The influence of this folktale on my young mind created the foundation for Scattering Stars, a story only I could write.
Acceleration was inspired by my experiences of the last decade. The basic premise evolved from the movie Limitless about neuroenhancement. After seeing the movie, I read the book upon which it was based—The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. I was horrified to discover that the endings of the book and the movie were completely opposite. (I’d freak out if a screenwriter changed the ending of one of my stories!) I was determined to write a book on neuroenhancement where the characters had to reconcile the fact that everything has a price. Beyond the basic premise, there’s a more deep-seated reason I felt compelled to write this book. For ten years I struggled with a neurological disease, leading me to spend many hours studying how the brain functions. Thus, Acceleration is uniquely my story—a product of my personal mortal journey.
We all have a story burning within us. Take the time to write yours down, enriching your life and the lives of others. I promise you’ll be glad you did.