Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Post Apocalyptic: N M Browne

I am writing this on the day after the US election. I am scared and upset and all those things that you

Image from Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

would expect a left-leaning feminist who wants a more inclusive society and a peaceful, functional world would feel. There is a lot more I can say but this post is not about politics or at least not this kind. No, what I have realised is how much culture matters. How the narratives we tell ourselves shape our world view. Stories of uncouth maverick outsiders who destroy corruption paved the way for Trump, just as all the books in which men do things and women don’t, may have made it harder for some people to see that the President of the United States could be a woman. It wasn’t just that of course. I can’t do anything about globalisation or the decline of the fortunes of the white middle class, the loss of traditional industry and the rise of the super-rich.I have always thought that what I can do is not very important. This election has changed my mind. I am a story teller and the stories we tell can change the world.


If it is stories that shape us, then I have to make sure that I tell the best ones that I can. Today I am returning to my rewrite of a post-cataclysmic adventure set in a future flooded UK with renewed enthusiasm. The story had stuck as stories do. I had got lost in an endless revision loop of the first few chapters because I had fallen out of love with it. It is a story about a young girl who tries to do the right thing in a tricky, corrupted world. She puts her life on the line to save her family and also to save her idea of what civilisation is. Suddenly it seems relevant again and worth fighting for.

 Of course as the writer I control the ending. The bleak point in the story when all is almost lost is followed by the fight back and renewed hope. There are setbacks but my heroine makes alliances across cultural divisions and most importantly she holds on to her beliefs that human beings should not be slaves and fights hard for those she loves. I can only hope that in this at least life follows art.

6 comments:

JO said...

It's so important, given Trump and Brexit, that we continue to stand up for those who are downtrodden - we cannot allow our values to drown in this mayhem.

And we also need to think about how our values no longer make sense to people we believe we stand up for - the poor, and the marginalised. But we cannot give up - it's far too important to all our progress slip away.

Bill Kirton said...

I agree, N.M. There must be some way of counteracting the wilful insanity that's blinded so many to the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, though, it's hard to see how when those actions supplant the myth of suicidal lemmings with a self-destructive reality. I'll keep sharing the stance of Mehitabel, the cat who carries the soul of Cleopatra in Don Marquis's still excellent collection 'Archy and Mehitabel' - "Toujours gai, Archy. Toujours gai."

Ann Turnbull said...

Oh, Archy and Mehitabel! My dad had that book and I loved it! Must get myself a copy...

And Nicky, I'm so glad you are back at work on your story. Writing or telling stories is not a small thing to do. It's vital and gives hope and life, especially in dark times. Keep going!

Umberto Tosi said...

My sentiments exactly: Yes. We writers must use our storytelling skills to create alternative worlds, including cautionary dystopias, that stimulate imaginations. For it is always the creative imagination that finds solutions to problems that seemed intractable from accepted, tired memes and paradigms.

Fran B said...

Yes, yes, yes. Creativity is not confined to arty-farty, poetic types. It is the backbone of progress. It is the stuff of dreams and visions. And, as the Bible says: 'where there is no vision, the people perish'. Narratives describe, predict and influence history. They make complex, important ideas accessible. Hurrah for stories! Keep at it, NM.

Dennis Hamley said...

You are so right about the power of story. My feelings about them are summed up in something I wrote in my 'Out of the Deep, an anthology on ghosts stories written over many years. I gave an account of each story's provenance and, at the end of an acount of how and why 'The Bed by the Door', a story written immediately after I emerged from hospital with a triple heart bypass, came into existence, I wrote '...their telling and writing is so crucially important. They clear your mind, they make you see straight, they give you strength.' I shall always stand by that.