The Litmus 2020: In Common

The inaugural cohort of Litmus writers submitted original creative works that stunned, surprised, warmed and moved us.

Each used the jumping off point “in common” and we were so impressed by the sheer scope and ingenuity of interpretations we received. Submissions touched on a vast range of themes from the coronavirus crisis to family ties to the environment.

Perhaps most notably a through-line throughout them all was the experience of living through 2020, whatever that meant for the writer.

Below, you can read through those submissions, prefaced by the letter each student received from esteemed author and Trinity artist in residence Ali Smith.

If you want to participate in this year’s Litmus Project, head to the homepage to find out more or contact [email protected].

Ali Smith’s letter to students

Are you a writer? Do you want to write? If YES: good. Continue reading this message.

Are you a student interested in writing – fiction, or non-fiction, or poetry, or maybe graphic novel writing, or blog writing, or in writing and storytelling in any shape or form you want?

If NO, then this invite isn’t for you. Pass it on to someone who wants to write and would like to be published.

If YES: Good.   Continue reading this message.

What comes into your head when you hear or read or think about these two words: IN COMMON?

Anything? Something just did. Something always happens, when words get put together. Even just two words that look like they’ve got nothing much in common, like the word in and the word common.

The Litmus is a new writing initiative for UK-wide school students. We’re looking for student writing of every sort, and this year we’re inviting submissions up to 500 words which consider, in any way you like, the phrase: in common.

Write down what happens when you hear these words. Make something of them. Send us what you write or make, we’ll publish it in our online display, and you’ll become part of a writing collective like no other, a collective that reaches all across the UK and will act as a touchstone for readers interested in what your generation is doing and writing right now – because you’re the people about to inherit the planet, make it your own, and make your own story and history happen.

Put the words together. We’ll be proud to publish you.

At the end of the school year, we’ll host a day of celebrations in the company of a host of visiting novelists, poets, and writers of every form, at the first Litmus Festival.

You’re the future. Write about what it feels like to be in the present. Write about what we have in common, the good, the bad, anything and everything the phrase brings to mind. Send what you write to us.

Be part of The Litmus.