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Writing

Personal: The small, private familiarity of being hit by a freshness of Sweet Pea fragrance again. They were planted late, yet bloomed early.

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Idea: The Toppling of Edward Colston; a sea-shanty set in the fine tradition of political folk songs.

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Idea: Everyone knows the Bechdel-Wallace Test, right? I wonder if, in our current age of the Anthropocene, with the rise of cli-fi and eco-fiction, we could propose a similar ‘Eco Test’…?

eg. Is there any moment, scene, or setting in this book/play/movie/comic where the natural or non-human world exists not just as a plot device, deus ex machina, or as emotional background for the human characters? For example: Why isn’t the environment of the characters (the landscape they might be traveling through) a central character in it’s own right? Is it possible to write a story where the human protagonists exist in equal relation, and with equal prominence, to the non-human?

examples: Overstory by Richard Powers.

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Question: Are literary devices (points-of-view, allegory, pathos and bathos, Chekov’s Gun, flashbacks; flash-forwards; irony; synecdoche; reliability etc blah) tools in the sense that they are made-up conjurer’s tricks? Or do they describe reality?

As writers, artists, we are trying to express, display, explore something that exists, right? Even if it just a feeling, even if it is set on the blood-plains of Mars. It’s the reality of a feeling where all the juicy story nutrition comes from… It is the empathy we can encourage for characters and stories outside our own, r/t, first-person point-of-view.

So… In real life, it is not a host of ‘plot instances’ (I get that job, that lucky/unlucky thing happens to me) that form the bulk of our story. Instead, our daily motivations and actions seem just as comprised by other important, plot-defining things that don’t often get mentioned: half-remembered dreams; fragments of poetry; songs on the radio that wont go away; daydreams (or flash-forwards?); gut-reactions and subconscious instincts; premonitions and anticipations; ruminations and private dreads; things left unsaid; anxieties and sudden moments of satori…

How do we put all of that stuff into the literature of the future?

***

 

Try this.

Write the following lines of this story, just for yourselves, just for each other. There might be a lot of things you want to get onto the page. There might be a lot of things you think should be on the page. But right now however, just write a few lines. And then write a few more. We’re going to come back to revisit these first lines often, like the branching routes that lead out of a crossroads, there are going to be many different directions that we might take. You might be surprised at where they lead.

The Story of Us.

There was once a great plague that swept over the land and all of its peoples. They barricaded themselves in their homes. They were afraid to touch each other. …

What happens next?

xoxo

How to Fight the Dragons of the Future

When I was younger I would, on occasion, end up in one of those Career Choices meetings where a kindly (if frustrated) person Who Knew The Way the World Works would seek to advise people of my general age, height, and social standing, about What Sorts of Things I Should Be Thinking About. These would inevitably lead, at some point, to the question;

‘But what do you want to do?’

To which I would say, ‘write’ or occasionally ‘make things up for a living’.

And the answer would inevitably be, ‘That’s not a real job, but I suppose there’s no harm in it…’ By which I think they meant that there probably was harm, in the form of penury, starvation, futility, and a generalized uselessness.

Thankfully, I ignored them.

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