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


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


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.


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?


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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