Recently, I published my first novel Wolves of the Shadowlands with Lulu.com. Although it hasn’t been the most commercially successful piece of writing ever, the experience taught me a lot about writing and about myself.
I am 17-years old and a junior in high school. I have been motivated to tell stories since the 4th grade. In elementary school, I would always be writing short narratives in my English journal. They were nothing fancy, complex, or necessarily logical. I was just a kid with a wild imagination.
Wolves of the Shadowlands
Centuries have passed since mankind vanished from the Earth, and in that time, the Wolves have risen to inherit the title of “Alpha Predator”. They have lived in peace and thrived for generations. But that is all about to change… The Wolves tell stories, of beings that strode upright, the Walkers, who would one day return to ravage the Earth and take back their “Alpha” crown. Ukita, a young wolf, dismisses these stories as nothing more than fiction, until he meets one for himself. Faced with the looming shadow of a violent war between their races, these creatures must either learn to coexist as beings of nature, or fall to ruin.
Fortunately, that wild imagination evolved into something much more complicated and versatile through writing. Before I finished middle school, my drive to tell stories brought me into film making, a path I have been following ever since. But even then, telling cinematic stories was not enough to satisfy my imagination and to calm the myriad ideas bouncing around in my head. I had to do more.
Tackling among the wolves
It wasn’t until I tackled the incredible experience of writing a novel that ideas truly began to flow from my head. Before I began writing Wolves, my writing had always been written by me, for me. Now I was telling a story – a real story to a real audience. I locked myself in and began channeling my idea onto paper. An idea that, over the course of about a year and a half, became a story of friendship, understanding, sacrifice, and much more.
It wasn’t until I had completed the draft of Wolves and I was going back through the manuscript to edit and polish it, that I realized the story wasn’t just about a boy, a wolf, or forbidden friendships. Through the process of writing, I had interjected elements of my own personality and experiences that I have had in my own life into the characters themselves. When writing, I was so engaged in telling the story that when I took a step back and actually looked at it from a different perspective, I saw my own reflection in the words that had once only existed in the void of my mind.
Imagination is more than just problem-solution or beginning-middle-end. It’s making characters and events unfold in a universe of your own creation and, to varying extents, injecting your own experiences and personality into it. The hardest part to overcome is making the decision to lock yourself in for the ride.
May you all find happiness in telling your stories!
Matthew Manyak is a 17-year-old filmmaker, photographer, digital artist, and narrative author. Wolves of the Shadowlands is his first published novel. He currently pursues a career of creativity and imagination at a school of the arts in northern Florida.