Building Beyond

A New Series for 2021

Due to an unknowable Substack error, this post only went out to a small portion of subscribers yesterday. If you’re seeing it for the second time, I’m so sorry for the double-send, and thank you for your patience as we navigate technology together!


Humans are built to imagine. That, to me, is one of our best qualities: the ability to hypothesize, to wonder, to create whole universes out of nothing at all. Whether or not you think of yourself as a writer, you can generate a world with your mind. Isn’t that just fucking amazing?

Part of why I love this ability we all share is because it can be used to change the shape of reality. When we let ourselves imagine new worlds, we start to realize that the world we live in is just as mutable as the worlds we imagine. When we start to believe that change is possible at all, all the doors fly open, and we start to believe that we can make change happen.

I think we could all use some of that belief right now, in a world where things are different. In a world we can build, together.

The Personal Canons series invited readers to consider where they came from — what books made them into the readers, writers, and people they are now. That series cast an eye to the past, to foundations and beginnings and underpinnings. Now let’s look forward and beyond, to where we might go, and what we might become.

Throughout 2021, in the Building Beyond series, I’m going to be inviting us all to flex our sense of possibility. I’ll be giving prompts a few times a month — some goofy, some weighty, some sweeping, some specific. These aren’t writing prompts, although anyone who wants to is more than welcome to use them to build stories. I’ll also share a few responses to those prompts, from writers and non-writers alike, because you don’t have to be writing to build a world — anyone can do it. Everyone can do it.

Maybe these conversations can help all of us give ourselves permission to explore the dustier corners of our imaginations, where hope tends to roost.

Let’s do what humans do best. Let’s build some worlds.

—Gailey


If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to this newsletter. The subscriber community is a wonderful and supportive one, and we’re going to spend 2021 finding new ways to stay connected and share experiences. If you already have a subscription, you can also gift a subscription to someone who you’d love to share these experiences with. I would also be personally thankful if you would consider giving this newsletter a shout on social media — your testimony would truly mean the world to me.

Also, I have a book coming out in just a little over a month! You can pre-order The Echo Wife wherever books are sold. Here’s a twitter thread with a lot of different options, if you’d like to avoid supporting monopolies. I’m so excited to share this book with the world.

In the meantime, care for yourself and the people around you. Believe that the world can be better than it is now. Never give up.

—Gailey