Thursday, October 25, 2012

What Do You Believe?

Welcome to this week's newsletter.

I hope everything's good for you - and that you're not making too many compromises in your life!  See the article below for more.


Murder, mystery, love, loyalty and two friends with awesome psychic powers! 

Currently I'm running a wonderful masterclass on plotting stories. Click on the picture below for more info!
Story Plotting


What Do You Believe?

Rob Parnell

It occurs to me that life is really about a series of compromises.
Personal, professional and public.
As children, our parents teach us that we can't always get our own way. 

Because when we're adult we find out - often the hard way - that our will must bend to societal pressure, peer pressure - the will of our employers, friends and family - and the law.

In a sense our lives are one long exercise in conformity to a system we must trust is correct - even if it doesn't always please us to do so.

When you look at criminals and law breakers, you see people uncomfortable with compromise - determined to do things their own way because they don't see the benefit of conformity.

Either that or they're attracted to the money generated by ambivalence to the law. 

The short term gain.

Law breaking is really only such a problem in our society because it's often so profitable for the people involved.

Of course we try to catch and punish the petty criminals and the disturbed amongst us, to show that we see merit in the force of law. 

But we know that much organized crime, corporate fraud and corruption goes unsolved, or at least unchecked. 

My suspicion is that this is because it's a much bigger problem - perhaps inherent in the system - than we like to believe.

There's probably a lot of people in positions of power that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo - including many of society's ills, because much of their power relies on our society being, beneath the surface, a heaving mess of corruption, inequality and lawlessness.

But what about the humble artist - the writer? 

How do we begin to change things and work towards a better world when the society we abide in gives us so little power to change anything?

The old answer is that we must change ourselves as individuals - be the good guy, the hero in our own lives first - and that of course can be a lifelong task in itself. 

But is this approach ever going to have much impact?

If you watch Hollywood movies, then yes, that's exactly how it works.

But movies are idealized versions of the real world - where justice and inequality can be addressed - and everybody lives happily ever after.

Meanwhile, horrible things happen all the time.


It's clear to me that most of us live in a society that encourages a sense of entitlement.

"What's in it for me?" is the mantra we believe is our birthright.

Especially in the Western world - and increasingly in those countries who aspire to our - apparently idyllic - lifestyle.

So if people only change based on self interest, how can we ever aspire to influence through art and creativity?

I won't pretend to have any answers. The question is mostly rhetorical.

Maybe it should be a subject for debate at some conference of future philosophers.

I guess it's what a lot of self help gurus try to do. Write and sell books that look, on the surface, to be about self improvement, wealth and success attainment, but beneath are really about building a set of personal values that will ultimately benefit all of us.

I guess we need to ask ourselves: do we believe in the power of the individual?

Do you?

If you're a writer, sat at home, writing, shunning the pressure to conform, then you probably do.

At the very least you believe that you can make a difference to your own life by doing things your way.

And that's a great start.

Because most people don't feel that way.

Most people believe they have no real power to change anything - not even themselves, let alone the society they live in!

It goes back to what I said in last week's article - there's a kind of madness attached to being an artist, a writer.

The kind of madness that you would need if you really thought that mere words can change reality.

But of course they can - and do.

Everything begins with writing - and history is rewritten constantly.

Spin doctors recreate events, change the facts.

Politicians use words to change reality all the time.

The legal system tries continually to make order out of chaos.

Fiction writers create worlds we aspire to live in - even if our own sucks.

So yes, writing can make a difference.

And does.

Do you believe it?

Of course you do.

 rob at home

"You've got to rattle your cage door. You've got to let them know that you're in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you'll sure have a lot more fun." Florynce Kennedy

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