Where Do Stories Grow?: John Saomes
A Guest Blog Post by Author John Saomes
When I first saw this question, I loved the idea behind it because it challenged me to think back to a time when I had the bare beginnings of my first book, and little more. My story contained a simple message—that mankind can be better than we are—that we can do better, and have a better life if we can only find a better way to live.
Through my characters I wanted to offer glimpses of a brighter world where the people were happier and each day held greater meaning. The beginnings of that story came from my own experiences of hardship as I battled to make ends meet in a consumer driven society of unbridled excess. The day-to-day grind of going off to work a job that held no interest depressed me—and I knew I wasn’t alone.
As I looked critically at the world, I saw most people struggling to survive while the rich got steadily richer and multinational companies recorded multi-million dollar profits. I remember wanting to scream at the universe because of the injustice. For a while I played the blame game, accusing my wife of spending too much, my children of being too demanding, and myself for failing to do better. It was a difficult stage of my life, but I’ve come to appreciate that every good thing that followed was born of those turbulent times.
As I agonised over the state of the world, my first short story took on new dimensions, and the secret city of Yuwmah sprang into being. My simple message grew from a whimsical whisper to a rebellious roar as my characters found louder voices and sharper tongues. And most of all, my story grew to become more potent and hard-hitting than I’d ever imagined.
From those early times, my single novella has grown into The Yuwmahn Compendium—a series of books depicting the problems of the world, and an array of possible solutions. With Journey To Yuwmah and Ten Yuwmahn Beginnings now published, and Return To Yuwmah coming soon, my basic message hasn’t changed—but the stories surrounding the critical issues have exploded into a plethora of complex characters and scintillating situations (or so I’m told)!
Where did those stories grow? I feel inclined to suggest that each one sprang into life from the most obscure thought or action. I’ve come to appreciate that our creative self has a way of taking a simple concept and making it into something far greater than it was. I also feel to suggest that as we formulate our ideas into words and commit them to paper or computer screen, they somehow solidify and become tangible and specific. Previous to writing them down, they were only vague thoughts.
By way of example: while driving through the countryside, I saw an old man sitting on his verandah looking out to the distant horizon. As I passed him by, I found myself wondering what he might be thinking. When I arrived home, I sat myself down on my own porch and looked out at the world as the old man had done. From that furtive act I found the essence of Reflections of a Yuwmahn Life, one of my favourite books from The Yuwmahn Compendium—which begins with just that image—an old man sitting on his verandah looking out at the world as he recounts the days of his life.
So where do stories grow? I believe they are the product of our fertile mind, springing into being in a magical moment from the most obscure thoughts or events and nurtured by our greatest and darkest life-experiences.
John Saomes is an Australian author and poet whose books and novels follow the central theme of ‘making the world a better place’. His writing promotes thought and discussion about the kind of world we desire, with emphasis on maximizing happiness and enhancing the human experience.
John currently resides in the beautiful hinterland of Australia's Gold Coast and champions global initiatives to promote and uphold personal rights and freedoms, and efforts to build a better and fairer world for all.
His published books to date include: two novels in The Yuwmahn Compendium and three poetry books in the Dinkum Dodger series.