The Writers’ Retreat At The End Of The World

Humanity is defined by the stories we tell ourselves. But our stories are failing and the world is suffering.

It’s time to tell a new story.

A weekend for writers who want to explore climate change and the environmental crisis in their work.

Friday 30 August- Sunday 1 September 2019
The Quadrangle, Kent


So. Climate change, eh?

Looks like we’ve gone from ‘oh we should do something about this’ to ‘holy crap we’re in deep doodoo’ pretty quickly.

But where is the overwhelming body of art and literature that this crisis should be inspiring?

We’re not talking dystopia here.

We’re talking the stories about how we live now.

Stories about the fear and grief and rage.

Stories of hope and hopelessness.

Stories about living and surviving during the slow apocalypse of climate change, the collapse of capitalism, the implosion of democracy.

The creative response to climate change has always been troubled; at first slow to appear and then struggling to have meaningful impact.

It is easy to feel despondent; it’s also easy to forget that we have always been defined by the stories we tell ourselves.

The climate crisis demands from us nothing less than a new way of telling stories and a new way of listening.

Without an adequate cultural response we will struggle with a meaningful social and political response, and in this respect the role of artists and writers is clear.

This summer, Climate Writers’ HQ will host a gathering of writers who are keen to engage but find their work is somehow paralysed.

During this time we will discuss the problems of narrativising climate change and focus on what each writer needs from themselves and their community to be able to bring their stories forward into the world.


This programme is constantly evolving but our list of topics to tackle currently looks something like this:

What do we talk about when we talk about climate change?

What are we actually even talking about? Climate change is a global phenomenon comprising of thousands of variables and conditions. On a person-by-person level, on a day-to-day level, what do we actually mean when we talk about climate change? How can we write about something that defies reasonable definition?

Fear, society, and denial

Group therapy session, y’all! How does a writer begin to process their own grief, loss and fear to allow them to write freely and without fear? What happens when we as individuals get scared? What happens when society gets scared?

From huge theme to ordinary life

How can we introduce huge political and social themes into everyday life without slipping into rhetoric or polemic? Who does this well? What are things to avoid?

The Three Act Structure: whyyyyyy?

No matter what we do, we always end up back in the 3 act structure. Whyyyyy? Is it inhibitive? Are we stalling ourselves? Do we need to break out of it in order to more fully tell the stories we need? Is humanity as a whole stuck at the end of the second act waiting for the hero? If we reorder our stories, can we reorder society?

Anthropocentrism: whyyyyyyy??

We think of anthropocentrism as centred only on humans but this is a monumental act of self-harm. True anthropocentrism places us within and part of nature, an integral part of a complex web. How can fiction begin to heal this separation of people and nature?

The Language inbetween

We are constantly being told we need a new language and new stories to truly discuss climate change. What does that even mean? Where is the balance between the hempy, flaky, fairy idealism of hippie environmentalism and the harsh, stern language of climate scientists? How do we navigate the heavily political with the hippie-dippie?

Beyond dystopia

Climate change dystopias are everywhere. Post-climate change wastelands are an obvious go-to, but where are the climate change stories of now? The anxiety and denial of late capitalism, the dreamily walking towards the end, the confusion and wilful ignorance. How do we find our connection with right now and learn to write these stories without resorting to floods, wildfires and wastelands?

Writing About Climate Change Without Writing About Climate Change

Climate change is a highly political and emotive subject. The second the subject is introduced in any explicit way, the reader is automatically thrust into the world of their own views and feelings on the matter. Stories about climate change need to focus on the individual and not specifically about climate change: discuss.


Friday 30 August – Sunday 1 September 2019

At The Quadrangle, Kent

There are only 30 tickets available


£150 per person, including a bed, meals and plenty of hot drinks.

You can pay in one go or three instalments of £50

Writers’ HQ Members get a 10% discount (just make sure you’re logged in when you book, the discount will apply automatically)

If you cannot afford the full ticket price but would still like to attend, please contact [email protected]

What else?

This retreat is all about active participation and we encourage everyone to get as involved as possible. Busybodies and interferers welcome. Could you tell us a story round the campfire? Help out in the kitchen? Host a discussion group? Be generally awesome? Let us know!