Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Summer of dreams: What I did on my summer vacation

Zach Williams '21 with his new novel
Zach Williams '21 stands with his first novel, Osprey: Justice Takes Flight. (Photo by Greta Jursch '21)

Vision: The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom

Forward: Onward so as to make progress

Throughout my summer vacation, the words “vision” and “forward” echoed in my mind, urging me to strive toward my goals. My name is Zach Williams. I'm a student at the University of Redlands and author of the novel Osprey: Justice Takes Flight, which I published about a year ago. Originally, I planned to relax on my summer break. What better way to celebrate finals being over than to play some video games? However, even though I took great pleasure in relaxing at home, something inside me wasn't satisfied. “I should be doing more,” I often said to myself. As much as I enjoyed playing games, there was still work that needed to be done.

One topic that rang in my subconscious was writing my second novel. Although I had started a few chapters earlier in the year, I felt stuck. At that time, I honestly didn't know what I wanted the second book to be. I had a plot in mind, but the fine details were foggy. While I was able to write several chapters, usually one or two per week, I felt like I was standing still. I ultimately decided to put the second novel on hold in order to come up with ideas, then pick it up later.

While I searched for answers, I began working with my dad, Leigh Williams, in his company, US-Defenders, and assisted him in building custom Land Rovers. The work could, at times, be difficult, as we regularly performed hard labor in 100+ degree heat, but I enjoyed the opportunity it gave me not only to learn, but also to let my imagination flourish. I wondered about characters and settings for the second novel, thought about various political topics, and pondered the mysteries of our world as I sanded down parts or handed my father tools he requested for the job at hand. Despite the grueling sticky heat and body-aching labor, I'm thankful I was given the opportunity to grow in body and spirit.

After several weeks of helping my dad, it was abruptly August. Suddenly, I felt an enormous pressure weigh down on me. I still hadn't finished the second book and fall was drawing ever closer. Looking at the blank document on my computer screen, I began to grow frustrated. Instead of moving forward, I felt trapped in a bubble. I had remained in the same place while the world rushed past me. Thinking a break might restore my confidence, I decided to stay with my older brother, Mason, who lives about an hour away from my parents’ house, for the weekend. I found I could finally relax. Then, on the car ride home, my brain became charged with energy. A wave of inspiration filled me with hope and determination. In one moment, all the pieces I spent so long searching for suddenly fit together.

The next day, I wrote with a vigor I hadn't felt in over a year. Four chapters were completed in one day, then two the following, then two more after that. In a rush of excitement, I continued to write. Finally, after a week of writing, editing, and cover creating I had completed my second novel. Osprey's Return, a dream I once thought impossible, was now a reality and joined its predecessor on Amazon.

Throughout my summer vacation, I was able to learn about some of the most iconic off road vehicles with my father, while testing my endurance against the oppressive heat of the Lucerne Valley desert. I was able to spend time with my family, while pondering the wonders of the future. And, finally, I was able to finish a project I considered a lost cause. I am grateful for the opportunity—and for the two words that pushed my vision forward. Find your two words that push you to do great things!