Fiction, NFTs, Insomnia, Reckoning, Poetry

A weekly selection of fine writing from Conked

BY RAND LEEB-DU TOIT – 19 MARCH 2021

Update from Rand

As the latest On Deck Writer Fellowship cohort nears its graduation day, I’ve been thinking a lot about the longevity of relations, interactions and value sharing. I have no doubt that On Deck delivers all of those, but my focus is on book or long-form writing, whereas their big tent is founders and they see writers through that lens, ie mostly newsletter or blog writers. I would love to see a collective form for On Deck Writer alumni focused on books, that alumni from other similar organisations like Compound Writing and Akimbo can join as well. In addition to reviewing one another’s work, this collective would bring in agents, publishers, self-publishing experts, editors, publicists and others to impart their knowledge and connect into the group. The aim is to be a clearinghouse for great books that inspire; to be a leverage for individual writers when dealing with an agent or publisher - a levelling of the playing field. I’m putting this out to the universe and know it will provide!


Open loops in fiction

Kaj Sotala | LessWrong | 14 March 2021

This great article by Kaj Sotala discusses an interesting trick used in fiction writing - open loops. When faced with a cliffhanger in writing, you may keep looping back to the scenario trying to work out what happens but require the writer to tell you. It can be used with individual sentences as well. Perhaps the first sentence of a story is meaningful but refers to something not yet encountered. This is an open loop and makes you want to know more. Subsequent sentences close that first loop but open others by referencing new information. The article demonstrates the use of open loops and how they make you want to keep reading. (662 words)


All Your Questions About NFTs, Answered

Rosie Perper | Hyperbeast | 14 March 2021

An NFT is a non-fungible token that is a digital token existing "on a blockchain and is unique and cannot be replicated." While often our digital lives exist on a platform or as a licence for use, NFTs are digital items that an individual can own and control. These digital assets may be a gaming asset, a picture or digital artwork, a piece of music, or even as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey did, auctioning off his very first tweet from 2006. There are various curated platforms and marketplaces that offer buying and trading of NFTs and various blockchains offer NFTs, listed in the article. (1,023 words)


How to use hypnagogic hallucinations as biofeedback to relieve insomnia

David Gross | LessWrong | 14 March 2021

If you are an insomniac, you have probably tried a multitude of ways to get back to sleep. This article by David Gross describes exactly the steps to lead you from restless to slumber and the methods to get to each step. Initially familiarising us with terms and concepts like hypnagogia, local minima, and biofeedback, Gross then talks about awareness concentration that can take you "out of that terrible whirlpool of insomnia" to provide the momentum to take you from through the steps to sleep. Recognising each guidepost and how to react both mentally and physically will assist your path to the "Doorway to Dreamland". (6,113 words)


Can Novels Make Amends?

Ilana Blumberg | Public Books | 15 March 2021

We are in a time of reckoning and public debate over past wrongdoings by nations or individuals and how they should be addressed in the present. Novelists however have been addressing this issue for over 150 years, and considering if scrutinizing and dealing with those responsible is "a necessary act of belated justice, or simply revenge?" Can wounds heal or do they need to be exposed and continuously discussed? At this moment in time, Mary Gordon's new novel Payback allows us to consider these issues, from a bad reaction in 1972 and a life lived with regret, to the near-present day when a reality show addresses this and similar actions and calls to publicly shame those guilty of wrongdoing. (2,710 words)


Poems Are Spiritual Suitcases: An Interview with Spencer Reece

Jonathan Farmer | The Paris Review | 16 March 2021

Poet Spencer Reece’s memoir, The Secret Gospel of Mark, took him seventeen years to write. He would have preferred it done sooner, but needed to find the correct structure - eventually using the work of a poet who had meaning to him at each stage to chart that part of his life. He reflects upon the process, the time it takes him to write and his faith as an ordained man. While earlier in life he had little patience, he has learnt that through the process of his work and the over 300 rejections he received for his first book. As the interview concludes, Reece says, "The thing about making something as a writer, if you’ve done it right, is that you learn..." (2,871 words)


Afterthought:

“Poems are spiritual suitcases. Poems comfort in the hour of need. They have comforted me."
Spencer Reece

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Rand Leeb-du Toit, Conkerer

Editorial comments and conk suggestions to the Conkerer: rand@exoscalr.com

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