Category Archives: Creative

Made of leaves and flowers

This cyborg was made by

An unknown scientist.

He ran away in snow country.

Low battery let her get back

To be a human again.

Leaves, flowers, seeds and water.

All nature gave her

Peaceful death and reborn.

May be a close-up

Flower face, reclaim yourself

Be the creature of your choosing

Take owl wing, or unweave

Rediscover plant secrets of your making

Remember your own heart

Take off the false layer

That tamed you into unfeeling

You owe your captors nothing.

(I was struck by how Dr Abbey’s words echoed something of the Blodeuwedd myth – this sense of a woman forced to be what she is not, finally able to revert to her true nature. The first text and the art are Abbey’s. I’m not sure the second text really adds much, but I wanted to respond.)

Girl with a sword – fiction

Grass double swords were the last weapon

In the village all were killed.

Just one girl is there now.

She had never got any tools to be in war.

Winds blow.

Waves come.

The World is ending.

Slowly and sadly, she decides.

Remember you, my love.

No one is ready for war. Tensions turn into rifts as the fabric of society comes undone. Hostility becomes violence. People you thought you knew are not your friends any more, not your neighbours. Trust shatters. My enemy’s enemy is probably also my enemy.

Sometimes it is just a matter of who can bring the most force to bear. Who had weapons already? What are you willing to fight for? What are you able to defend? How well can you hide? Then it becomes a question of skill and knowledge. Can you find water and do you know what to do to make it drinkable? Do you know how to find food? In the end, sickness and hunger kills more people than the violence does.

A bamboo sword might not seem like much, but they aren’t heavy and don’t need much skill to make or use. Three sticks bound together becomes a weapon. After the bullets run out, the bamboo sword can still lash. You won’t kill anyone with that blunt edge, but you can sting them, hurt them enough to make them leave you alone. It is enough.

(Art by Dr Abbey, text by both of us)

Demon shield – fiction

The shield is made by her hand.

All the demons tried to eat this girl.

She never fights with anyone.

Just bravely standing up and smiling up.

I am dying every second and reborn every moment.

Please do kill me as you wish.

I am never afraid of demons.

Beat me, it hurts demons themselves.

Scream out, the words will shower and turn to mist.

In my body my blood river is running

From pure hearts given by my mother.

True love shields inside me.

No demons are beside you now.

We turn ourselves into demons. We do it for power, for bodies that are stronger and can take more damage and do more harm. We give up what was soft and tender, inside and out. The most important thing is winning. The only thing. It leaves no room for other desires, for other feelings. No price is too high for victory and we sacrifice ourselves on the altar of triumph.

Fear us. Hate us. Fight us. You have to fight us. It only makes sense if you fight back. We are your enemy. Feed us your hatred. Justify us with the force of your wrath. We cannot be forgiven, you must not forgive us. We cannot be loved, we have chosen to go beyond acceptance, we scorn your compassion. How can we destroy you if you refuse to fight us? How can we prove our superiority if you don’t even want to win?

(Art by Dr Abbey, text by both of us, more worldbuilding and playing with ideas.)

The Teller – fiction

You are sat in the shade under the solar panels. It is the hottest part of the day, the best charging time and there is nothing to do but sit and wait.

She says, “It’s best of course to use energy as you harvest it, but this thing is so unstable with all the sails out and without them we don’t get enough juice to keep moving.”

You nod. The unfolded sails have legs to support them. You can’t imagine the machine in motion with all that extra width. 

“So I tried to find other ways to make it work, and this heats the water as well. I try not to let anything go to waste.”

It’s a clever system. You hadn’t realised the woman sat alongside you designed this machine. You hadn’t really thought much about anyone designing it.

While you wait, she tells you stories. She is amusing, and clearly in the habit of passing the time this way. You are hot, and uncomfortable and her voice is soothing. It strikes you that she is someone who makes her life with her own hands, out of whatever fragments can be found. Her clothes are beautiful, and you can see how they have been cleverly put together from scraps and elaborately stitched. You wish you had her skills, and say so.

“It just takes time, and patience,” she says. “Anyone could do any of the things I’ve done.”

This strikes you as unlikely, but it is a persistent thought and stays with you. What could you do just by getting in there and having a go? What do you want to do?

(Art by Dr Abbey, part of an ongoing fiction collaboration, currently we’re world building and thinking about what form this project will eventually take.)

Restoration – fiction

Without water, how can there be plants? But without plants, there is no water. It takes roots to hold moisture in the soil, and the ground cover of leaves to stop the sun from stealing every last drop away. 

When the plants have been eaten by livestock, when the deep rooted ones have been taken out for the sake of shallow rooting food crops… the soil dies. The desert grows. Hunger follows.

How do you make life where life has been destroyed? How do you dream a desert back to life?

So you dig, making places that will hold the water for a while, when it does come. And you plant the toughest trees you know of, asking their roots to cling hard, and to somehow, against all the odds, find life in this barren place. You cover the ground with whatever organic material you can find, you keep the sun off where you can.

Trees won’t be burned by your piss. The outpourings of your own body become a precious resource. You water as best you can. You think about every drop of moisture, every use and reuse. 

You wait for the rain, and you pray to whatever gods watch over trees that they will live long enough. Your dreams are green. Your heart yearns for greenness. Your lips are cracked from the lack of it. 

The sky is relentless. The whole world seems broken.

You ask the tree roots to hold you, to hold the rain, to hold the soil, to hold the pieces of the broken world and mend it somehow. 

(Art by Dr Abbey – Guardian of the West. Text by me, based on reality as best I understand it.)

Giantess – fiction in progress

She saw the sea.
You saw her.
I saw both.
Shadow, shadow on your shadow.
Her blood plants are covered with tears
of your regret.

A woman on the shore at twilight, towering such that at first you do not realise she is a person.

And then you think she isn’t a person after all, but the great swelling mass of the kelp beds re-growing.

But you see the face in the kelp, and you feel her presence and know she is there.

Your heart hurts with loss, with the weight of too little care over too long.

She is striding in the water now. She is life and regeneration, she sings the songs of spawning grounds and turtles.

Weeping, you bend to gather rubbish from the sea. It is the only offering of yours that might interest her.

(Art by Dr Abbey, text by both of us.)

Thoughts on world building

The kind of world you imagine shapes the kind of story you can tell. This is an important consideration when writing, but it’s also true in everyday life. The way we imagine the world affects the kinds of stories we can tell, and the kinds of lives we can lead. The person who believes that this world is grim, vicious and that people are awful will make a very different story of their life from the person who believes in cooperation and kindness. The fiction we create contributes to how the people who encounter it imagine the real world to be. This is why I want to work in hopeful genres, not dystopian ones.

When Dr Abbey first started drawing pieces for our joint project, I saw deserts, ruins, haunted people, and a lot that was troubled. This was our shared starting point. It struck me that it would be an interesting thing to write a story in the aftermath of disaster, where people are trying to rebuild. It’s the rebuilding that I’m interested in, and the idea of what it means to be restorative. If we can imagine being restorative, it will be easier to achieve it.

A world in ruins could very easily be the setting for grim and dystopian fiction. This is a scenario where everyone is damaged in some way – bodily, emotionally or both. Everyone has seen horrors. Everyone has experienced the kinds of things that make it really hard to trust other people. However, there are people who have set their hearts on rebuilding and re-greening. The key characters will either be people who are already working on that, or people drawn into it.

It struck me that there are other implications to a traumatised society. Mostly the characters aren’t going to talk about it. Everyone knows that everyone else has seen terrible things. If you’re going to work with people, it may be better not to know what terrible things they did in the past, and just go with whatever they are doing now. If you’re trying to atone for what you did, it may be better not to have to speak of it. How do we forgive each other? How do we forgive ourselves? These may be important and relevant questions to ask as countries around the world seem ever more divided and people become polarised. How can we be kind, when there has been only cruelty?

So, I won’t be telling the stories about the terrible things that happened. I will allude to them, but no more. The question will be how to move past those wounds and conflicts, to make something better. How to build hope when it is almost impossible to imagine anything good. How to rebuild trust, and faith in humanity.

Mapmaids – fiction in progress

The land has changed a lot. War, desertification, the work of resisting desertification, the abandoning of war-ravaged cities, the establishment of new towns and the building of the railway. No one quite knows where anything is any more.

The mapmaids are a band of adventurous young women who travel alone or in small groups, to map the land, find out what people are doing, and share stories. They favour wind powered go-carts, hence the goggles. There will be maps that are hand drawn onto large pieces of vellum – paper being far too delicate for this environment. There are also story maps, because those are easier to share and learn.

The idea of the mapmaids came about as a happy accident. Dr Abbey and I were talking about Hopeless Maine. I knew he’s meant to write ‘mermaids’ but as soon as I saw ‘mapmaids’ I also knew that they were a vital addition to this project. I’ve been waiting for him to draw one – and as soon as I saw this character, I knew that she was a mapmaid.

A survivor – fiction in progress

“She is a slave of victims.
Who knows how she forget all.”

We’ve talked of victims before – this is a story set in the aftermath of war. Everyone is damaged. To some degree, everyone is a victim, or sees themselves as such. When Abbey shared this image and the text above, it was the first time he’d suggested slavery as part of the mix. But, slavery so often goes with war, and the use and abuse of power is very much what war is about.

How does she forget? By looking for seeds amongst the ruins, and planting whatever she can. Nurturing new life with water and patience. Small acts of rebellion, to make something that is hers and hers alone. At least for now. Little patches of dirt opened to the sun, and gifted with any seed that might survive. There are no weeds in her mind, no distinctions between cultivated plants and wild ones. She grows whatever she can.

When you do not know how to heal yourself, healing something else can be the best way forward.

I see her as a figure alone. The people who enslaved her for a while have moved on, and had no further use for her. She has no idea if it would be safe to leave now, and nowhere to go if she did. But there are seeds to find, and plant and nurture. They give shape and purpose to her life.

If you’ve not seen anything of this before, I’m sharing bits and pieces from the world building I’m doing on a project with Dr Abbey. It doesn’t have a proper working title yet – early days – but I thought it would be interesting to share ideas as they come up. This is not at all how I normally work, which is also fun. We’ve been quiet with this for a few weeks, due mostly to how much other stuff is going on, but you can find more of it in the ‘creative’ category.

Druid Poetry

Some years ago, I donated some of my poetry to The Druid Network – it’s still there, with ‘Bryn’ on it as a name. Bryn is my first name (Brynneth, for long) – I mostly use Nimue when I’m writing (my middle name) because Bryn Brown doesn’t quite have the right swing as an author name. In everyday life I use both names interchangeably and am happy to have people call me whichever they prefer.

Recently, I had a contact via the Druid Network from a fantastic Druid chap who found some of that poetry and has recorded some of my work. I love his reading, and the richness his voice brings to my words.  So, over to Davog Rynne…