In the Works #9
Gratitude, Empathy, and A New Community Project
Where does the time go? Surely, it’s accelerating. You must feel it too, right? It seems like a couple of weeks ago since I recorded an “In the Works” video, but it’s been seven weeks. I’m behind.
Harmony House Update
This week, I’m publishing the ninth episode of my serial novel, “Harmony House,” and things are starting to cook. The contestants move into the tiny space where they will have to coexist for as long as they can stand it. Feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly positive to this quirky story that I set out to write. The eight episodes to date have over 4,000 reads since I debuted the novel in late September. I couldn’t be more grateful for this.
I wanted to explore so many things with this book, but more than anything else, I’ve wanted to take a deep dive into a microcosm of community. How do we respond to each other when the barriers that separate and define us are removed, and we’re confronted with our true nature with no means to escape?
If you’ve not yet taken the plunge and moved into “Harmony House,” there’s no better time than now. You’ve got over two and a half hours of premium audio narration to listen to, which I’m giving away for free until the episodes age out and go into the paid archive at the three-month mark. You can binge on your next long drive.
Speaking of Community
I hosted a virtual meet-up with a handful of writers I admire here on Substack, most of whom I referenced in my last “In The Works” update. It was such a wonderful conversation that literally spanned the globe from the coast of Spain to England and all the way to Australia. I think we all felt immediately as though we had found our tribe. It’s so rare to find that feeling of connection. What a miracle of technology to be able to sit across from one another as if we were in the same room. Thank youand for the wonderful conversation.
Same Walk, Different Shoes
This meet-up and the extended community of writers I interact with here on Substack got me thinking about a project I’d like to do. I’m calling it “Same Walk, Different Shoes.”
The act of writing does so many things, but one thing I’ve come to appreciate more than the rest is the way in which it has the capacity for us to build empathy — to understand in some small way what it might be like to walk in another person’s shoes. Fiction writing, in particular, requires this. If you cannot feel what your characters feel, they will forever be wooden and lifeless.
My idea for this project is to have an open call to writers here on Substack to provide an anonymous prompt. The prompt would be to describe a very personal moment of transformation— some event or experience that changed the trajectory of the writer’s life. I would put all these anonymous prompts into a virtual hat and randomly assign one to each participating writer, who would then have a month to compose a story that uses the transformational moment as the seed to tell the rest of the story.
We would all post our stories on the same day and share links to the collection. It feels like it might be a powerful experience for both the authors and the readers. Real stories, reimagined from another’s point of view. I’d be curious what you think. Is this a good idea?
If there’s enough interest, look for a post next week with details on the project and how you can participate.
Finally, I wanted to close by taking a moment to thank all the people who have read and supported my creative work for the past year. I never take for granted the precious attention you divert from your life to devote to engaging with something I’ve made.
For those of you who have financially invested in my work as paid subscribers, you do something 95% of people in the world do not do. Art, with the exception of a few insane outliers, is unanimously undervalued, and most people are unwilling to pay for something they can get for free, even if it means helping an artist survive and continue to create the work you enjoy.
Imagine if you took the $20 you spend every month on your favorite streaming service and allocated that to a group of independent writers whose work moves you. The impact of your support on those individual artists is something real that you can feel good about. We all need more that we can feel good about.
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