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Bowdoin alumni bridge age gap through writing

September 17, 2021

When Anneka Williams ’21 started her first year at Bowdoin, she never expected to write a book during her time at the College, let alone co-publish one with someone nearly 60 years her senior. However, Williams, who is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Climate Change at the University of Copenhagen, did just this. Joining forces with longtime friend and mentor David Treadwell ’64, the duo published a book titled “A Flash Fiction Exchange Between Methuselah and the Maiden: Sixty Stories to While Away the Hours.”

The book—a series of sixty flash fiction stories—was published in April after being worked on by the pair during William’s final year at Bowdoin.

Williams met Treadwell during her first year at Bowdoin, when she was interviewing with him for a funded internship. The pair sparked a connection over their shared love of writing and the fact that Treadwell’s son taught at the same school as Williams’ father. During Williams’ four years at Bowdoin, their friendship grew and persisted.

“He’s been like my adopted grandfather and just such a great friend, it’s awesome,” said Williams.

Although Treadwell works as a writer, neither he nor Williams had written flash fiction before. The pair decided to start the project as a way to grow their writing abilities and friendship.

“I [had] never written fiction … before,” Williams said. “It was almost like reverting to being a little kid, but in the best way, because it was sort of like my imagination could go absolutely anywhere and didn’t have to be contained.”

For Treadwell, who hadn’t heard of flash fiction before writing the book, writing the stories allowed him to explore a new frontier of his craft.

“Last October, I think I was in a restaurant in Freeport, and [Williams] sent me a text saying ‘Do you want to do flash fiction?” Treadwell said. “I wrote back, ‘I don’t know what that is,’ so I decided to check it out and we agreed to do one [story per] week.”

The weekly stories quickly added up. Williams and Treadwell each wrote 30 short 1000 word stories based on 30 simple prompts for the book. Although the topics and themes of the stories vary, all are centered around the exploration of the human experience. When writing the book, the pair took turns bouncing ideas off each other, often drawing inspiration from their respective experiences at Bowdoin.

“I think that my imagination is always influenced by real people and experiences,” Williams said. “Specific people at Bowdoin and things like that shaped my stories.”

Although Williams graduated with a degree in Biology and Earth and Oceanographic Science, she often wrote in her spare time during her four years at the College. She believes it is important for students of any discipline to explore writing.

“Storytelling is pretty core to just about everything in our lives,” Williams said. “I chose my majors, and I really liked them, but I love reading and writing, and I actually really missed that.”

Through both her friendship and book collaboration with Treadwell, Williams has learned a lot about herself and her own writing style.

“I think he’s given perspective on the fact that we are really young and don’t need to rush,” Williams said. “It was so nice to talk to someone who wasn’t my age at Bowdoin.”


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