I’ve been wanting to write a post with ‘butt’ in the title for quite some time, frankly so I can increase my audience reach and see more interesting mail come through my spam folder. When I found out my creative friends have been using me as a disciplinarian to whip them to meet their project deadlines, I decided to align our goals so that we can all save some time. One of my good friends and colleagues is in her first year of her creative PhD. She’s been making up weekly schedules and sending me screen captures of her work-in-progress to help her be accountable. I’ve been encouraging her to deliver some practical studio work too to get her creative juices flowing. In return, I promise to create a couple of drawings every week as part of my creative journal. 

I think that some journaling about my creative writing process is a good thing for me too. I’ve seen very little return on my writing this year. It’s been one rejection after another — short story submissions, writing competitions and trying to get an agent to take on my middle-grade manuscript Apprentice Guide to Fairyside. At last count, I’ve probably amassed forty ‘no thank you but send us something else!’. The journaling helps me track the small accomplishments, the little breakthroughs that writers make when they are floundering in the Middle Manuscript Kingdom, a reminder that this is a loooong journey. 

One small win is landing a mentorship with one of my favourite writers Margo Lanagan through the Australian Writers Mentoring Program. We’ve been working on draft five (draft five! I’ve re-written this 100 000-word manuscript  five times!) of my Young Adult speculative fiction work Love in the Age of Time Travel

Love in the Age of Time Travel explores how the past determines the future. In the year 2025, giant worm-like creatures called behelminths are bred in secret underground cities to jump through time. Ambitious Adana March is a Trog, a lowly field hand, working at the Stables to care for the behelminths. She yearns to be a wrangler, the skilled driver who jumps through time on these sublime creatures. 

The first issue Margo pointed out is the similarity between my ‘behelminths’ and the worm-like creatures in Dune. I made up these worm creatures four years ago, admittedly because I wanted to pun on wormholes. I hadn’t even seen or read Dune. Anyway, after a week of despair, I realised Margo was right and set about redesigning my worms.

I’ve always been a visual storyteller and I’ve been itching to try out these new copic markers my mum-in-law bought me for my birthday. And so, I set about re-thinking these time-travelling creatures. The original word ‘behelminth’ is a play on ‘helminth’ which means ‘worms’ and ‘behemoth’ a mythical great beast from the biblical Book of Job. Even though my creatures are named for worms, they actually take on more centipede characteristics in my story, mostly because centipedes are amazing and their venom has a diverse cocktail of toxins which can kill you.

My first re-design combines the centipede model influenced by the killer alien insects from Starship troopers. I call it the ‘chronopede’.

The second re-design is inspired by a whale, just because whales are amazing and also I use the concept of echo-location as a mechanism of time travel. This one is called my Earthwhale.

The third re-design is inspired by a waterbear because they are the weirdest, toughest microbeast in the world. I discovered them while binge-watching the Octonauts with my kid. Check them out.


On the right, is my redesign version. It’s half-water bear, half-whale, and all Pokemon. I can’t get away from making my drawings look like Pokemon.

Anyway, this week I’ll continue to play with more designs of my worms before locking something off. If you know of any weird and wonderful animals that can form the basis of a time-travelling divine creature, please let me know!