Story Notes: How can we ever be better?

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I was so excited for my story ‘How can we ever be better?’ to be published in Flyleaf Journal. Flyleaf is a fantastic publication that pairs artists with writers to produce beautiful cover art for individual short stories. I was lucky and absolutely thrilled to be paired with talented artist/illustrator David Curtis who created a beautiful piece for the cover of my story!

To read the story just head on over to Flyleaf Journal and order a copy.

Because I love to know about the origins of a story from the writer’s perspective, I thought I would share some notes about this story with you.

Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the story notes below. So if you want to read the story with fresh eyes check it out first at Flyleaf Journal before reading the notes.

About ‘How can we ever be better?’

This story brewed in my head for a long time. I never write anything down because I’m of the mind that if a story sticks around in my mind, it’s good enough to write. ‘How can we ever be better?’ started with the idea of a thief who steals words. I thought about it for weeks, here and there while I washed the dishes or went for a walk, then finally I decided to sit down and write it. I love how the process of writing reveals things that you didn’t know were there. Sometimes I feel like thinking about the story is a conscious action but the writing itself is almost mystical, a subconscious process. What started out as a simple fairytale developed itself into a more complex allegory that I only half intended.

I have my own thoughts about the meaning and the message; a cautionary tale about not blindly following people who claim to provide higher knowledge (especially if that knowledge is shallow and insubstantial), a warning to always think critically, a metaphor for our humanity and how, despite thinking we are evolved, we are still just angry monkeys. But I also like to know what other people see in the story. That’s one of my favourite things about writing metaphor/allegory/fairytales—everyone always takes what they want from it and sees in it what they want to see.

I’ve read this and other fairytales at writing groups before then just sat back to listen as people tried to guess or invent their own meaning. Often when people ask me what it actually means I’ll shrug and say ‘I like all of your ideas’. Because often the metaphors get away from me or create themselves naturally and I can guess what they mean, but because my writing is sometimes a very subconscious effort your guess is as good as mine.

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