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It’s been a rough month - in April there was a bad health scare for a member of my close family, and while we’re not out of the woods yet we did get some hopeful news about that last week. But it’s really knocked my sleeping pattern out of whack again, and made my anxiety/attention span worse.

I keep making it half the way through books and then I abandon them. Currently struggling a lot with Octavia Butler’s book, Parable of the Sower. It’s a good book. But it’s more brutal than I was expecting. I’d seen it referred to as a hopeful dystopia - I guess when I picked it up I hadn’t really taken into account what that means. A hopeful dystopia is still a dystopia - even if it is able to envisage some routes out of it.

I am into the spiritual elements of it, i think. I want more of that. And more weirdness. But I guess in some ways that would make it an easier read. For me, anyway. At the moment, it is a relentlessly difficult read.

A Scholar of Magics is waiting for me. But I worry that once I read it, I will have read all three of the books in this fictional universe, and I don’t know if we are likely to get any more of them. Given how long ago the last one was published, I suspect more books are unlikely.

Sleeping badly, reading badly. I have been writing a lot of poetry, but I think that well is running dry too now. In order to write I need to do more, read more, see more things. I am so tired and ill and hardly making it out at all that I just feel a bit like I’m withdrawing from life and I resent it but also am not sure how to make it better.

anyway, one thing I am doing is constructing various fictional cities in my head and through collecting images, pieces of scientific information... it’s fun. And I hope to write stories set in these cities. But also I just like to think about them. It’s comforting. One of them is a moving city, a radical city based on a situationist proposal or thought experiment - what if there was a city which moved over the earth? Each building was made to degrade easily and each generation moved a certain number of miles west, leaving the old city to be swallowed by or subsumed into the earth... another one is not really a city, but a small settlement based around a hotel and archeological dig on a small ring of reclaimed land in the middle of the North Sea, where Doggerland used to be.

The other city I am thinking of is part of a novel project I don’t have the energy or expertise to write. Called Sanctuary City, which is on the nose but is sadly all that it is called in my head. Well, that’s a lie. I came up with a whole fictional etymology behind the name. Saints’ City, Sanctuary, Sanctuary City. A university town, a walled city, shielding some people and not others. In an area hat has a history of brutal repression and a long radical history also. I’ve been thinking about the Paris Commune of 1971, Canudos, and all of these other experiments in alternative ways of living, of organising cities and settlements. I want to write about it, but I don’t think I can yet.


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charlotte

December 2018

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