some thoughts/ideas/insights on futurist writing to date

last week, i was on two calls about futurist writing. the first was a reflective semi-wrap up call for the alternative futures (af) pilot round. the second was with some (new) friends in nairobi. both were with grant williams. some interesting insights bubbled up in those calls.

first, how to think about this pilot round of the collective has shifted for me. also last week, in a convo with my friend caroline howe, when i was discussing this project she made an analogy to improv. she said that there’s something called ‘sketching a scene’ that happens at the beginning of each ‘act.’ that’s the part where you explain to your audience the setting and context. then, you and the rest of the actors actually get to the acting. but they are two distinct parts.

after this convo, i’m seeing that the current frame for the collective for people to write stories 1k-2k words is actually just the ‘sketching a scene’ (aka world-building) part of the process. on both calls (and in some emails), people kept saying “i didn’t even really get to the point of my story in this first piece.” and i think that’s because that’s actually just (somehow) intrinsically not enough space.

so the current structure for af is actually just the world-building space. and then it’s going to take more energy to actually write into the world(s).

second, the future iterations of af have yet to be defined, but there are some ideas emerging.

  1. people join the collective with a world in mind. each person in the collective then commits to writing into that world for a period of months. the group supports each other with feedback and encouragement.

  2. the group collectively commits to the same world and everyone writes into it from their difference perspectives. this idea was spawned by abe lateiner’s story, but it turns out (unsurprisingly) that adrienne maree brown did this three years ago via the detroit sci fi generator.

  3. there was another idea, but it escapes me right now…

finally, play is everywhere! cyndi’s new book on play is coming out soon, my upstairs neighbor, yotam, and an old friend, everett, are both running workshops and groups on play. my friend kate balug is all about play and utopia. it’s everywhere for me right now and i’m trying to lean into that (like any good bender (story coming this friday) would). this writing stuff to me fits in the play space and it’s just so interesting that so many folks i know are moving in this space.

so much more to write, but i need to go get ready for the day.


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