My #NaNoWriMo journey of 2019 is almost up, and I have nearly reached my 50,000-word target! I suspect that very few of those words will be useable in a novel format – I’ve been allowing them to spew out in a very disorganised, messy, stream-of-consciousness way – but at least they exist. 😉
I’ve come to realise that my project, Wednesdays, is set at the end of the twenty-first century. It explores how humanity might live at this time: how we might respond to the ecological crises that were set into motion as a result of the lifestyles of bygone generations; how we might be striving to clean up the planet; what our communities might look like.
Wednesdays is resonant of 2070, a short story I wrote last year. That tale was set in the year 2070 – as the title suggests – and explored one community’s immediate response to a volcanic eruption that occurred on their island home (click here to read it). As often happens during the creative process, I didn’t really understand the significance of that story at the time of writing it. Sometimes, the underlying messages behind our work don’t become clear until months or even years later.
“Wednesdays explores how humanity might live at the end of the twenty-first century: how we might respond to the ecological crises that were set into motion as a result of the lifestyles of bygone generations…”
It is very common for futuristic writing to be bleak and dystopian. I believe this has a great deal to do with the utter despair that so many people feel today, when they look around at the state of our planet and can’t imagine that it will ever improve. However, I have hope, for many reasons, and I want this sense of optimism to come through in my futuristic writing.
The tone I want to achieve in Wednesdays is not depressing, but not wildly, ridiculously optimistic either. I want it to be grounded and real. Wednesdays features humans simply doing their best – as they have always done – and finding new ways of living and relating to one another during a vast planetary clean-up phase. It pays homage to the messiness, the love, the frailty, and the wonder of human life. There will be nothing dramatic, gory, or over-the-top about it: it will just showcase life, in all of its mundane glory, carrying on as it always has.
Whilst writing Wednesdays, I have seen people living in small, tight-knit communities, without many of the luxuries we currently have in industrialised countries. In these late 21st-century communities, life is basic, but everyone’s needs are met. They are not grim, dystopian communities, but places of burgeoning hope. These are the sites from which humanity will create itself anew. Here, we will regroup and flower.
These communities represent a return to what is truly necessary and important in life. To my mind, the inhabitants of these places have demonstrated courage: enough courage to leave behind the old way of life that didn’t serve their ancestors well. They have shown me that in the future, there will be a greater public awareness of our need to be there for one another, especially for those who are elderly, ill or vulnerable. There will be less of the rampant isolation and loneliness we currently see in large cities. We will be more aware that when one person in a community suffers, all suffer – and that, when one person is content, they’ll have the necessary strength to help others. We will also have a more expanded awareness of what the word ‘helping’ means, and the many different ways that healing can come about. A kind word, an expression of solidarity and empathy … a knowing that when you help another person, you are ultimately helping yourself.