Thank goodness that's over, now I can get back to writing.

I've no idea where our readers are. But some of those in the UK might be preoccupied today. For we had a referendum yesterday in which we decided our future place in the European Union. The media has been overwhelmed with arguments (I call them arguments - some not much more than appealing to primitive suspicions and beliefs about people who are different) for months. I confess I reached the point of turning them off. I couldn't bear watching yet another rich white man pontificating and making promises he can't possibly keep.

However, it has absorbed my thinking. The implications, for myself and my family, are huge. We can't reverse this decision. It's not like an election; if we elect a bunch of tossers we can vote them out in another five years. We have to get this 'right'. (Today we find out what 'right' might look like).

Then came the murder of Jo Cox - there's nothing to add to the millions of words that have been written about this. But I can't have been the only one who never knew her but but still spent hours thinking about the senselessness of her death. Do I really live in a country where people kill other people who don't agree with them?

What's this got to do with writing?

Possibly not a lot. Because writing needs headspace. I have a Work-In-Progress lurking on my computer. I'm used to parking this in a corner of my mind when times are busy, knowing that it will talk to itself occasionally provided I give it a little attention (often in the form of a walk, when I allow myself to think about nothing else), and then it will re-emerge with solutions when I have time to get on with it.

But these last few weeks have been different. The combination of a full diary and political uncertainty has overwhelmed my capacity to contain the WIP in its safe corner. I've had to give up, admit that there is simply too much going on. I have given myself permission to let the writing go for a while, knowing that this will pass and I can pick up it again when things settle.

Today we get the results of the referendum and I shall be absorbing the implications. There will be no energy for writing - again. But you, can you put huge world events to one side and settle to writing? Or do you, like me, allow yourself to give up occasionally?

If you've got any headspace to think about writing today, you can find some on my website,


Dennis Hamley said…
Well, Jo, we know the result now and I am appalled. I certainly won't be able to concentrate on anything creative or disciplined today. I'll have to spend the morning watching the rugby to take my mind of it for a few moments, then go for a walk and try to contemplate with a reasonable amount of balance the alternative scenarios, all of them depressing, one or two downright horrifying, which await our still-beautiful but now dreadfully ruptured country.
Am I the only one on social media this morning who finds the result exciting? Scary but exciting because it proves democracy works in my country. If the result had gone the other way, I'd still have been happy because of that... it's better than violence, which I don't think was very far away if things had been allowed to continue the way they were headed. The Prime Minister's reaction was surprisingly calm and upbeat, and I am watching to see what happens now.
Susan Price said…
Well, Kath, I voted Leave (ducks brickbats) and I am half appalled and half excited by the result.
My very politically aware aunt says she doesn't think the government will actually leave the EU - the referendum is not legally binding.
We shall see - and Dennis, commiserations.
Dennis Hamley said…
Katherine. you are right: it was indeed democracy in action so it was a proper decision. Now we know, we have to stay together to see that the new arrangement works. I've lost some of my early morning despair, though not all of it by a long way. I was so shocked that I thought the rugby and the final humiliation of Australia was this morning, not tomorrow. But yes, a little of bit of me is excited, because in the long run it may lead to the forming of a proper opposition party to replace, I'm saddened to say, a completely bankrupt and irrelevant Labour Party which must take quite a lot of the blame for this result - if blaming people is appropriate today.
Dennis Hamley said…
And no, Sue, the decision may not be legally binding but it will be a brave politician who tries to stop it.
Nick Green said…
No, that was not democracy in action. Or if it was, it was only democracy in its most literal translation: 'Mob rule'.

We are meant to have a representative democracy in this country, in which we elect people who actually understand the issues to make the decisions for us. It doesn't always work out well, but it's telling that the vast majority of elected MPs were throwing all their weight behind the Remain camp.

As were virtually all the economists, and virtually all the other relevant experts.

But Nigel Farage put up a poster showing a tide of brown-skinned people moving from somewhere to somewhere, and a bunch of middle-to-old aged people in leafy villages and retirement resorts decided they didn't want those people setting up a jungle camp on their newly mowed lawn, and so decided to 'take back the freedom' they never knew they didn't have.

I have never been as angry as this in my entire life. The nation has shot itself in both feet: leaving the union and putting the lunatic right-wing in charge. For God's sake, can people look at Nigel Farage's guffawing, sneering face in front of his loathsome poster and not realise that HE IS THE BAD GUY?

Forty-three years of bridge building, gone. Thank you, little England. Thank you so bloody much.
I have no excitement about this at all. I'm angry and sad at the same time, and I'm desperately, despairingly worried about our grown up children and what this will mean for them. My advice to them right now would be to go somewhere else, but I don't know where. I do think the UK is finished. It won't happen immediately, but it will happen. For a while, I was hopeful, but if there were another Scottish Referendum, I'd be voting for an independent Scotland too this time. I have plenty of good friends who voted Leave and I won't be falling out with them. They did it - some young, some old - for well considered reasons and mostly not to do with immigration at all. Oddly enough, the one or two Leavers I have spoken to this morning about this seem as shocked as I am which leaves me wondering if they thought it wouldn't happen. Anyway, I reckon next time, the majority in Scotland might just decide to leave England to its own devices and desires. Intellectually and emotionally, we already have. But to answer Jo's question - I may well take refuge in fiction. The only way to stay sane. That and/or alcohol.
Bill Kirton said…
I'm so depressed and appalled by the whole thing (and I'm never naturally depressed or appalled - at least not to this extent), that I can only say that Nick and Catherine have spoken for me. At my age, I won't experience too much of the damage I fear this will cause but I'm ashamed how, yet again, we've failed our grandchildren's generation. And why? Because a politician tried to appease some dissenters in his party. And to hear Michael Gove gravely intoning how great a Prime Minister Cameron has been was beyond satire.
kayj said…
I too fear for my grandchildren. My morning feelings that pehaps it won't be so bad have evapoated. The reation from Europe is ominous. We have been put in a dreadful, possibly terminal, situation by blindly stupid people who caan see no further forward than Thusday. And when the leave voters of Hull and Burnley realise how completely they have been conned there will be hell to pay.
JO said…
Thank you all. I am horrified - I did a history degree (many years ago) and there are patterns in Western Europe of alliances, then treaties that fail and end up in wars. We've had the longest period of peace since 1066. Of course we're not taking up arms today, and possibly not in my lifetime - but what sort of world are we leaving the grandchildren? And no, I can't begin to think about writing at the moment.
Not a comment about the result... but to answer Jo's original question, I found I could not write after the twin towers came down in New York, even though I had publishing deadlines at the time. To me, that was a far scarier event than Britain voting to leave the EU in 2 years' time. But the creativity came back eventually, and that's when I wrote "I am the Great Horse" as a sort of reaction to world events. I suspect we'll see some interesting books coming out of this turbulent period.

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