Friday Writing Experiment No. 27: My Own Private Heidi


In a blog post on the idea of Right Speech yesterday, I mentioned a recent article by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wondered why the many ‘searing indictments of Thatcher’s Britain’ failed really to undermine her; Margaret Thatcher was, after all, brought down by her own people.

So what should an artist do, he asked? I’ll repeat an anecdote I quoted from Boyce:

A few years ago I was interviewing a young woman who had been a victim of ethnic cleansing. Abducted as a child, she’d been raised inside a cold, regulated, racially defined institution. But she’d grown up to be an articulate, engaging advocate for refugees. At the end of our meeting, I asked her how she had known – growing up in such an unloving environment – that life could be more. “I read a book,” she said. What book? A searing indictment of Thatcher’s Britain? “Heidi.

There is nothing more subversive than a definition of happiness, a vision of how things could be better.

What’s your Heidi? This week, write something that brings to life your own vision of how things could be better. Inhabit a concrete setting with people performing specific actions that embody some idea of how the world can be a better place.

Want a spur or inspiration? In a week when violence and destruction have been in the news, and when lawmakers have had little success in passing measures to try to contain some of that violence, I’m thinking of Simon Armitage’s super millennium poem Killing Time, and the sequence devoted to his take on what happened at Columbine High School in April 1999.

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