Activism, Letterlocking, Fiction, Fanfiction, Mentorship

A weekly selection of fine writing from Conked.


Update from Rand

This week I excitedly saw the release of my Author website. The week also saw a publication covering my writing journey over the past few years by my French friends at clind. I also took time to provide a personal health update at Rand Research on my recent skirmish with an invasive fungal infection to the chest wall. Be well, be curious.

Collecting the evidence

Claire Launchbury | Le Monde diplomatique | March 2021

In February 2020 Publisher and activist, Lokman Slim was assassinated in Lebanon. He was the founder of an organisation that seeks to raise awareness of the violent past of Lebanon and find ways to avoid more conflict. He made documentaries, held exhibitions and wrote reports, as well as published censored literature to provide a record in the absence of any official work. He also worked on a project to document and trace those missing in the civil war. Written by his friend Claire Launchbury, the piece finishes, "This contrarian who sought reform through dissent was driven, as the best people are, by cynicism, and by love." (1,306 words)

Sleuths Read Old Booby-Trapped Letters Without Opening Them

Matt Simon | Wired | 02 MARCH 2021

"Letterlocking" is a way of folding correspondence in intricate ways to hide the contents. Now there is a new 3D imaging technique that shows the words within without damaging the letter. The way the paper was folded and tucked ensured that if opened, parts would be ripped, thereby revealing to the recipient if their secrets were safe. The Brienne Collection is a trunk that holds 2,600 letters where recipients could not be found, sent between 1689 to 1706 from Europe to the Hague. As there are hundreds of these letters letterlocked, 3D scans show not only the words but the method of folding used for the security of the words within. (1,839 words)

Fake Accounts and the Reality of Fiction: A Conversation with Lauren Oyler

Sean Hooks | Los Angeles Review of Books | 02 MARCH 2021

An interview with writer Lauren Oyler who has previously produced non-fiction and now has a debut novel - Fake Accounts. Debating social media authenticity, Oyler believes people go there for work but stay for non-work reasons, can harm their career through online behaviour and the personas we adopt online vs offline can be quite similar. She also believes that practising attention improves it and people have a fear of 'blank time' that social media can fill. To make art you need to believe in the value of art and why you want to create it, especially when you could instead spend your time on Twitter. (1,565 words)

The delicate relationship between grief and fanfiction, explained by a psychologist

Aja Romano | Vox | 02 MARCH 2021

Fanfiction has become a source of solace for many people throughout the pandemic, both as a form of escapism during this time of enforced isolation and as a way to cope with loss and grief. Professor, mental health counselor and psychologist Dr Lynn Zubernis has written and edited many books on Supernatural fandom as well as teaching a course on the psychology of grief and believes fandom is where people can reflect, grow and find comfort in familiarity. It also creates a sense of community - it was written by a fan, it may have been recommended by a fan and you interact with the author or other fans. (3.465 words)

Isabel Allende on Literary Ambition and the Power of Mentorship

Isabel Allende | Literary Hub | 02 MARCH 2021

Isabel Allende writes she had passion when young, but not literary ambition: "I think the idea never crossed my mind because ambition was a male thing; when applied to women it was an insult." She had instead, good luck - immediate acceptance with her first novel. While initially following her grandfather's belief that leisure time was wasted time, she now writes "what I care for, in my own rhythm." She pays posthumous homage to her literary agent, Carmen, and all that she owes to her after she saw the worth of her first novel and had it published in Spain and a multitude of other countries. (1,281 words)


"... now I stroll calmly in the land of intuition, which has turned out to be the best environment for writing."
Isabel Allende, The Soul of a Woman

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Rand Leeb-du Toit, Conkerer

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