October 16, 2023

Advocates in Action: Writing for Climate Action

Jane Long - "My writing is a call to Action to readers, a warning if we don't take action now as a society against climate change"

Jane Long, Write the World 2023 Climate Writing Award Winner for Flash Fiction 


Seventh Generation sponsored the 2023 Write the World youth climate writing contest. We had the pleasure of meeting Jane Long, the winner of the Flash Fiction category, and asking her a few questions about her writing, her inspiration, and her hopes for the future. 


Jane Long is fifteen years old and a homeschooled 10th grader, living a few hours outside Austin, Texas. She is an avid reader, especially of science fiction. Jane particularly loves steampunk science fiction – a retrofuturistic subgenre incorporating technology and aesthetics of the 19th century. 


Writing under the pen name Jane Getalong or GetalongRanchWriter (drawn from a family joke as her parents ask Jane and her siblings to “get along”), she describes her unique writing process: Jane will first draw a scene she has in her head, then write a piece about it. She draws inspiration from science news, climate research, and her own experience.  


Tell us more about your process of writing your award-winning Flash Fiction piece? 

I have been part of the Write the World community for a while. As part of the writing community, you’re able to give feedback to peers’ work, and I had been reading and reviewing others’ submissions for other competitions. In reading the submissions for the 2023 Climate Writing awards, most of them were poetry and many left me feeling hopeless with characters not focused on action. So I tried my hand at my own submission for the climate flash fiction category. Flash fiction is a challenging genre where one must write a story in only a few hundred words. I originally wrote 1000 words and slowly had to whittle it down. I like to build whole worlds with lots of details, so slimming down my original draft was difficult. 

When thinking about where to set this story, I was inspired by the interactive sea level rise maps online, where you can see how much the oceans will rise in certain years in the coming decades. I decided to set it in our capital city, Washington, D.C., which was built on swamps and may be inundated again in a few decades. 

I had also read about scientists discussing putting solar shades in the atmosphere to filter UV rays and help lower temperature. In my story, I tweaked that to solar panels, but with a similar concept to reduce heat. The main character is in a race against time to get back within the city walls before such panels close, blocking the harsh sun and protecting those within.  

Ultimately, Swamped is a call to action to readers, a warning if we don’t take action now as a society against climate change. 


What initially inspired you to write about climate and environmental topics? 

As a homeschooler, I went for a while to a wilderness school. We would often go on hikes at McKinney Falls State Park. There’s a river there that would flood about once per year, and when we’d visit after a flood, I’d see clumps of trash high up in the trees. All this waste from the city had floated downstream and trashed this otherwise beautiful waterway and forest.  

At home, I’ve also begun paying attention to our own waste steam. Since we don’t have city trash pickup, we have to collect our own and periodically take our waste to a local dumping station. Being able to see first-hand how much trash we create from my household has also inspired me and my family to do better to reduce our waste and switch to reusable materials.  

These personal experiences have led to my interest in how our human life interacts with, and often poisons, the environment. Many of my writing projects have been about dystopian futures like dealing with radioactive waste or a climate-changed future. 

What are your hopes for your future? 

I’m still a few years away from college, but I’m interested in studying biology and ecology. I’d like to keep writing, but while it will likely be on the side, I’ll definitely always be writing for a cause. 


You can read all of the 2023 Climate Writing Award winners in this virtual booklet, including Jane’s winning piece on pages 8-9.