A smartphone screen lit up in the dark, displaying an image of hands reaching for one another

Writer’s review: ‘Heart Emoji at the End of the World’

Why do we keep telling apocalypse stories? Surely there are only so many ways to write the end of the world. So why is it such a fertile subject for speculative fiction?

There are multiple answers to that question. As a predictive tool, apocalypses let us highlight the hazards we see in the world today or imagine in the world tomorrow. As a setting, a world gone mad provides plenty of fodder for daring action sequences and thrilling near-misses. But the apocalyptic story that reached out from the screen and grabbed me this week contains neither prediction nor action.

Instead, Shauna O’Meara’s ‘Heart Emoji at the End of the World’ demonstrates another reason the apocalypse is such brilliant writing fodder: it has a potential for emotional impact like no other. Catastrophic events lend unprecedented urgency and depth to personal interactions – and O’Meara’s story takes the broad-scale tragedy of a society coming apart and makes it deeply, achingly personal.

Like my other writer’s reviews, this will be about what I took away from this story as a writer as much as a reader, and as usual it won’t try to avoid spoilers – so if you’re interested in experiencing the story as a reader, I highly recommend you go and read it before you read my analysis of it. It’s well worth it. I’ll wait.

Continue reading “Writer’s review: ‘Heart Emoji at the End of the World’”

Share this post:
A white carnival mask covered in musical symbols and extravagant feathers sits in front of a more subdued, black carnival mask.

Does mental health treatment change who you are?

I’ve been getting some really lovely, thoughtful comments recently on my brain weasels post. One comment particularly struck me, from someone who is being treated for their own brain weasels for the first time in their life. I’m scared, they said. I don’t remember ever being any other way.

I recognise that fear. When I began taking medication for my mental health, I was nervous too about how it might change me. What if I became a completely different person?

It wasn’t just concern about side effects, although that was part of it. But on a fundamental level, it was acknowledging that this person with all her worries, her relentless thinking and planning for possible outcomes, her bursts of intense creative energy and her inevitable burn-out – this was the person I saw as me.

This was the person I was used to being, the only person I had any experience of being. How much could I change without becoming essentially someone else?

The answer to that, as it turns out, is both more complicated and simpler than I could have imagined.

Continue reading “Does mental health treatment change who you are?”

Share this post:
Two paper boats, one with a red heart drawn on it, the other with a purple heart drawn on it

Asexual in love pt. 3: navigating an asexual-allosexual relationship

While some asexual folk are in relationships with other aces, there aren’t that many of us around (~1 in 100 people, statistically speaking). That means, for most of the ace folk I know who are in relationships, their partners are allosexual – they feel sexual attraction.

In my first post in this series, I promised to talk some more about the specifics of how Ben and I have made our own ace-allo relationship work. Last week I went off on a bit of a side-track about the nature of love and attraction, but for part three of this exploration I want to delve a bit further into our story.

Continue reading “Asexual in love pt. 3: navigating an asexual-allosexual relationship”

Share this post:
Multiple heart shapes on a purple background

Asexual in love pt. 2: what is love and how do I even?

This is a followon from ‘Asexual in love pt 1’, and marks part two of my exploration of love without sex. There will be more parts. At this point I’m honestly not sure how many. Let’s see where this ride takes us.

 

Love is one of those sneaky, slippery concepts. Most people would tell you they know what it is, but ask someone to define it and things get a lot more complicated.

Case in point: I would have said I have a pretty good handle on what love is – after all, I’ve been in love with the same person for twelve years. And yet in my world, love and sex have nothing to do with each other. It’s still maddeningly strange to me to realise that some people think them inseparable.

What does it even mean to love, or to be in love? How can we be so confused about this?

Continue reading “Asexual in love pt. 2: what is love and how do I even?”

Share this post:

Writing updates: Mother of Invention available to the public & The Miller’s Daughter in audio form!

I’m having a long and nail-biting wait on a few different writing-related fronts at the moment, but at last one of them has borne fruit: this morning I woke up to the winners’ announcements for the 2018 Remastered Words Audio Anthology – and the thrilling news that The Miller’s Daughter has come second!

What does that mean? Only that my story’s going to become part of a professionally narrated audiobook!

This is super cool news, and I can’t wait to see (well, hear) how it turns out. The first step is for it to go off to the editor, so the version that gets recorded may differ a bit from the one on the website (which already differs greatly from the version that won the ASFF Amateur Writer’s Award – such is the evolution of a tale). I’ll let you know when the 2018 audio anthology comes out.

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to announce that Mother of Invention is now for sale to the general public in paperback and ebook forms. If you missed out before, this is your chance to get your eyeballs on it and find out why the final line of my story ‘Arguing With People on the Internet’ made Lauren E. Mitchell squeal with evil delight (I got to watch them read it live in my living room, and it was an absolute treat).

Share this post:
On a purple background, two birds made out of thumbprints hesitantly touch beaks

Asexual in love pt. 1: what does it mean for a relationship when you don’t want sex?

Recently, I’ve found myself in conversations with two different friends – one old, one new – both of whom had been identifying as demisexual and both of whom were coming around to the idea that they might actually be at the far end of the asexual spectrum, like me.

That in and of itself wasn’t a big surprise – exploring your sexuality can be a lifelong process, and it’s never too late to grow in your understanding of what your body wants or doesn’t want. What shocked me in both cases was the reason they had been holding on to the label of demisexual long after beginning to suspect it didn’t fit them: they thought being asexual would mean the end of any hope for love.

Continue reading “Asexual in love pt. 1: what does it mean for a relationship when you don’t want sex?”

Share this post:
Four puffins on a rock

This week I learned: animals in ultraviolet

Just a quick one this week, as it’s been a very busy week (some of the busyness might be leading to interesting things, but nothing confirmed enough yet to post about).

Some people might choose to celebrate the end of a long week by getting down at the disco. Not really my scene of choice (though I do love a dance!), but here are some party animals who look great under a bit of UV lighting.

Continue reading “This week I learned: animals in ultraviolet”

Share this post:
A dark wall containing several identical doors

Writing a compelling, character-driven climax

It’s one of the most common pieces of advice for would-be writers: read widely, read often. Less often appended is: read thoughtfully. But that’s what it means, really. As a writer, you’re no longer just reading to be entertained – you’re reading to learn from those further along the journey than you are, studying the work of skilled craftsmen to find out how to better your own craft.

This kind of detective work is one of the best things about my own endless journey towards being a better writer: analysing fiction that appeals to me and discovering clues to improving my own fiction. Sometimes it’s a work of concentration and deep thought; sometimes, like this morning, the pieces just fall into place and suddenly I can see a picture I didn’t even know was there. This morning’s epiphany: the element that ties together the climactic moments of so many of my favourite character-driven short stories.

Continue reading “Writing a compelling, character-driven climax”

Share this post: