Saturday, 2 July 2016

Writing and politics, odd bedfellows

I've tried to get my head back into things post the EU referendum. It's not been easy as I fear for the future of my country (and for my own future - I do not have the luxury of independent wealth to ease me). Watching the Last Leg on television last night helped. If you've not seen this program you should give it a try. It's a comedy show featuring Josh Widdicombe, Alex Brooker and Adam Hills that takes a look at current affairs, often from the point of view of the disabled and other minorities (both Brooker and Hills are disabled).

Last night I laughed so hard at one of their sketches (a puppet show that explained the recent Tory Party shenanigans) that I was finding it difficult to breathe. I needed that release. So if any of the three presenters ever read this (or any of the behind the camera staff) I would like to thank you all. Since watching that I have felt a whole lot better.

So much so I got the writing bug back. Just as well I did as I have the whole evening to myself tonight. My in-laws are on holiday and my wife is at a gig with the jazz band she plays with (baritone saxophone in case you were curious). So I had seven hours to occupy, hopefully productively. The only problem I was having was that the current WiP (as of yesterday) was stalling a little. After a bit of reflection it has one the way of a number of others into the "Maybe at some point in the future" pile. This pile has grown in recent times, fuelled by a growing disillusion I've been feeling (and that I've blogged about before).

Fortunately I had an idea for a story appear and last night as I lay awake I started to write down an opening. Eight pages of A5 later, with my hand in severe camp, I had about half of an opening chapter. Tonight I've converted those handwritten pages into typed up pages - and then added another section meaning I now have 3,682 words of a new novel on the page. One more scene and chapter one will be done. And then all I have to hope is that I can keep the momentum going to the point where the novel takes on its own life and cannot be stopped. I find they tend to do that at around the 20K-25K mark. I've certainly never got that far into a book without finishing it.

Now the interesting thing with this novel is it is not science fiction, fantasy or horror. It has a little bit of weird running through it but not excessively. It's certainly not heading for Neil Gaiman or China Mieville territory. Bizarrely I'm finding myself after nearly five decades of being almost exclusively a genre reader (obsessive?) I am writing a mainstream novel. And I'm enjoying it.

I suppose I should mention the title. It seems only fair. I've called it "The Writer, Writing". I know it's hardly original to have someone writing a novel about being a novelist. After all Stephen King has done it several times. But the idea doesn't work with my central character being anything other than a writer. The closest comparison I can think of in terms of content is Zoran Živković. I stress this is in content terms. I am not intending to compare myself with Zoran Živković in terms of quality. I find the man one of the best writers I have ever read. He's up there with Umberto Eco and Salman Rushdie for me.

He's probably why this kind of story came to mind. Having read every book of his that has, so far, been translated into English I guess I should expect him to influence my thoughts when it comes to my own writing. All I can do now is keep typing and hope that the novels finds its own life before distractions occur.

Back to politics (it's never far from my thoughts), I've found some of the events of the last week interesting - if a little troubling. There is a continuing disquiet on the EU referendum. There are many, many people who are angry at the result - or rather the manner of how it was won. And I can see reason for the feelings many have. After all it was only hours after the announcement of the LEAVE result when some of the campaigners seemed to be distancing themselves from the claims made in the campaign.

Today there were the first demonstrations against the result in London and York. I wouldn't be surprised if these were not the last. I think the summer might see many of them and they could grow much, much larger. And is the claims that seem to be fuelling them. On the report on the BBC website you can see a photo of one protestor holding a sign saying "No Goodbyes Based on Lies". And it's not a young woman holding it. My guess would put the sign's holder into her fifties.

I feel a great deal of sympathy were their feelings. I would have preferred a vote to REMAIN. I have been passionate Europhile as long as I can remember. I go further than many pro-EU people I know too. I feel humanity has many problems that we will only solve by working together for a common good. But I've never wanted to push anyone on this. After all the only thing I could see resulting from such an argument was a further entrenchment.

Well such holding back on my part I feel is no longer necessary. Although going in detail is not all that relevant even if restraint in expressing these views is not needed.. We have voted LEAVE and unless these protest grow to a level which cannot be ignored (and one which I do not believe will be achieved) than we are going to be leaving the EU.

So to put it another way it is time to just get on with things and make the most of what we have and build the best future we can from this point forward. Then if the protests do succeed in reversing public mood then I can rejoice but I won't be wasting the time in between waiting for the unlikeliest outcome.

There is one other thing about these protests though that I fear is not a good thing. After all this whole referendum process has proven divisive in the extreme. Cracks in our tolerant society have widened. We need to seal them and heal ourselves and remember all the things that bring us together rather than those that force us apart. We need to return to the time when you could disagree with your neighbour, brother, partner, colleague or friend without the disagreement resulting in anger and hatred. After all as I heard one politician (a reflective REMAIN campaigner) say, we are all BREXITEERS now. And we need to work together.

But more than that we still have to work with our neighbours and we will rely on much goodwill to be exchanged in all our future dealings to make this happen. Which is why I found Nigel Farage's words in the recent EU parliament session particularly distressing. For one thing the worst thing in the world, in my opinion, is a bad winner. Everyone talks about bad losers and there have been one or two of them, but bad winners trump them (up to you to decide if there's a pun in there) by several factors over.

Farage's gloating to the members of that parliament I found extremely distasteful. And I consider them amongst the most poorly judged I have ever heard form a politician.. All I can hope is that now the UK is leaving the EU that a one policy party like UKIP fades into obscurity. We need people who can bring us together now not drive the edge in further. After all this is a shared planet and we need to work together to take care of it. You just have to look at the recent climate change data to realise just how serious it is we build consensus and cooperate on a global basis - if we want to ensure the species has a future anyway..

The EU was one such step towards this. There was much wrong with the organisation (I wasn't blind to its faults) but at least with 28 countries pulling together then I felt there was a chance to get others to follow.

Seeing it at risk of disintegration (with Frexit, Nexit, Italeave, Grexit and Oexit (Austria) all now seem to be new portmanteau words that are popping up here and there) distresses me. Add in the similar growing sentiments in Germany, Sweden and Denmark and you can see a worrying nationalist trend appearing all across this continent. So far the mood in these countries has not gone as far as it had in Britain - but we always have been a little bit apart from our neighbours, believing that narrow sea somehow makes us different.

I just hope our decision does not lead to the end of the EU. Giving a good kick up its collective arse might not be a bad thing; but not breaking it up. Britain's exit might end up being the best thing for all concerned. If the EU restructures itself and concentrates on what it was set up for (the common market) and rids itself of the bloat factor and wastefulness then it might become something we would want to join again in the future.

Anyway back to writing. It is what I'm supposed to be doing after all.

1 comment:

Zoran Zivkovic said...

"The closest comparison I can think of in terms of content is Zoran Živković. I stress this is in content terms. I am not intending to compare myself with Zoran Živković in terms of quality. I find the man one of the best writers I have ever read. He's up there with Umberto Eco and Salman Rushdie for me.

He's probably why this kind of story came to mind. Having read every book of his that has, so far, been translated into English I guess I should expect him to influence my thoughts when it comes to my own writing."

I am very grateful for your kind words...

All very best,
Zoran Živković