Writing at the end of the world

Let’s just take stock of where we’re at.

The UK is hurtling towards an ungainly Brexit, voted for by just over a third of the adult population and headed up by an unelected Prime Minister who is swiftly making Margaret Thatcher look like some sort of socialist saint.

The US, not to be outdone, has voted in a billionaire who openly gloats about tax avoidance and assaulting women. The percentage of the population who are happy about this is even lower than the ‘overwhelming mandate’ leading our country into disaster, and both of our nations, who can thank for their successes generations of immigration and open-mindedness, are battening down the hatches for an extreme right-wing orgy of which Hitler would be proud.

Alongside this, the world is still facing (if not yet facing up to) the worst humanitarian crisis since World War One, military leaders from Russia to China are seemingly putting things in place for yet more global conflict, and our media is having a field day in this post-truth age which has never been less interested in the facts of the situation where there’s a good story to be had.

And don’t even get me started on the travesties that are quietly being played out on our doorsteps behind this international shitstorm. The health and education services that are being dismantled and sold off to the highest bidder, the fat cats getting fatter whilst the poorest and most vulnerable in our society are living hand to mouth, or dying behind a smokescreen of spin.

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It is hard to know what to do.

It is hard to know what the point is of doing anything.

And yet…

I was reminded the other day about why it is I am a writer: why I love books, and art, and culture. Why it matters even more when everything else is falling apart. It was one of those rare moments when the different parts of my life collide: I was at a Torbay Culture Forum meeting to discuss ideas for the future of Shoalstone Pool, and I found myself surrounded by a table of inspiring, talented people who have an unshakable belief in the ability of culture to affect change.

I do, too: that’s why I was passionate about teaching literature and drama and film as well as the more functional elements of literacy and media studies. It is why I trained as an actor many moons ago, and is why I have spent so very many hours over the last few years carefully crafting three novels whilst learning what it is to be a mum.

It is easy to forget, though, at times like this. It is easy to think that it is only by addressing politics head on that you can really make a difference, and that artistic endeavour is frivolous and self-indulgent. I think I’ve been stuck in that space for a while now.

But it’s time to break out. Something clicked when I was away last week, and I have come back with a renewed sense of what I’m doing and why.

I have an idea for a collection of short stories, inspired by this impending sense of doom but altogether more hopeful than that sounds. I’ve been putting pen to paper, playing around with words, and finding the whole process quite therapeutic. As stories emerge I’m planning to set them free into the world and see if any of them can find a home, but I’m feeling strangely liberated by the fact that I’m envisaging this as a collection too, a cohesive work that I might be able to put out there myself someday soon.

I say soon, but I still have no idea where that bigger picture of submissions is taking me. What I do know, though, is I need to own this writer hat, to separate it out from the new-mother angst that spawned this blog. So I have a separate writing blog in the works, which hopefully will be ready to launch in the new year.

This links in to another realisation I’ve had, about what it is that ties together all the stuff on this blog that isn’t about writing – and that is, surprise surprise, linked closely to that sense of creeping armageddon too.

It’s all about changing the world, basically. About nurturing a new generation – as a parent and a teacher – that will do things differently. Do things better. And I think I want to explore this more explicitly, with a blog dedicated to this idea of child rearing as a quiet and determined revolution.

It fits quite neatly with all my thoughts already about parenting and education, but I think the time has come to own that side of me too – not just to voice my thoughts and apologise afterwards for failing to embrace the status quo.

So.

Change is afoot.

Time to silence that demon who has taken a break from criticising my writing to laugh at me for believing that I can make a difference, however small that difference might be.

Because if not me, who? And if not now, when?

Writing Bubble

12 thoughts on “Writing at the end of the world

  1. Reneé Davis Author

    There is so very much in here that I can relate to, and I’ve also changed my mindset on my blog in the last few weeks too. I’m holding back less, and just putting stuff out there. That’s what blogging is all about right? I think that as long as you aren’t going out of your way to offend people, then anything goes 🙂 LOVED this post, and I’m looking forward to reading more like it (and your collection of short stories) xx

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      I’ve been catching up with your blog today – I really love your recent posts. Life is way too short to not say (or write!) the stuff that really matters. I just hope my current spurt of bravery lasts… xx

      Reply
  2. Alice @ The Filling Glass

    So, I think your comment about a quarter of the population voting for Brexit is misleading because the turnout was 72% of voters. And I want to highlight the apathy of young voters – those who tuned out were more in favour of Remain but the rest didn’t care enough to make their views know, which is sad. Having said all that I was not at all happy about the behaviour I saw after the Brexit vote or that Trump has been elected.
    Moving on though, I watched Leonardo DeCaprio’s Before the Flood film, and I thought who is he to comment on all that when his lifestyle is hardly environmentally friendly but I share your view that culture is a very important thing for the human race – it is largely, along with emotions, what sets us apart from other animals. Written and visual arts are so important for changing viewpoints and adding enjoyment t our lives. I always used to want to change the world (made my parents start recycling aged 7 back when the only way to do so was to take it to the special collections at the tip, took Development Studies as an undergrad, trained to be a nurse), but as time went on felt more and more disempowered. Now as a mother though I am somehow renewed, although it had to start with my mental health, and I feel that I want to try to make a difference again. I do believe people on different ‘sides’ can want the same outcomes. I have always felt that we are similar, good luck with making changes happen, I look forward to reading about them. xx

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Alice you are completely right about my figures – I have amended the post accordingly! I had no intention to mislead – In the midst of my rant I was getting confused with the percentages around the last general election… So many disastrous election results recently I’m having trouble keeping track! I totally agree with you that voter apathy, especially among young people, and especially when there is such a disparity between their views and those of older generations, is really worrying. It was one of my main motivations for wanting to get involved in local politics actually, to try to make politics seem more ‘real’ for young people – for everyone – rather than something that happens on the sidelines of their life. I do think too though, as I mentioned in my comment on your recent post, that there is something very wrong with the political offer in our society (and others) at the moment that makes people feel especially disenfranchised. There’s no ignoring that now, so hopefully it will be the start of a fundamental change… If I can play even a small part in that then I will be very happy! xx

      Reply
  3. maddy@writingbubble

    I love this post, Sophie and I think we feel similarly on a lot of these issues. The world feels like a scary place at the moment – too many decisions guided by hatred and fear and far too many divisions in society. I do hope that having witnessed and experienced the brexit and Trump votes and their aftermath, at least now our socities can confront the true extent to which people feel disenfranchised. I just think Trump and May are hardly the types to work on behalf of these people – indeed on behalf of ALL of us and not just the elite – to unify us and to make life better for everyone. Deeply troubling.

    On the subject of art however, I do think this can be a guiding light somehow. The position it holds to reflect on life, or take us on flights of fancy, to help us express ourselves and to understand others… it just feels like we need it even more at times like this. In fact a friend and I had a big discussion about this last night and we have a little plan we’re going to put into action soon. I think we have to just do what we can. Your collection of short stories sounds like a great idea and I look forward to hearing more. Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting. xxx

    Reply
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  5. mamaelsie

    Your post really resonates with the conversations I’ve been having with close friends and family lately. Sometimes we are too willing just to carry on with our busy lives but somehow the events of this year seem to have permeated through all of us and left many of us with a miserable outlook on the future. But I have seen blogposts, articles, poetry, plays already responding to today’s world and I’m sure art, songs and novels will catch up soon. The value of art is that is often reflects the world we are in and is capable of affecting change. Onwards and upwards.

    Reply
  6. Sara | mumturnedmom

    I’ve read this post a few times now, as usual I’m nodding my head. So much I could say about the politics, but I think you know we’re on the same page. But the idea of art and culture as influencers and of teaching the next generation to do better? YES. We can all make a difference, however small, and now is the most important time (in our lifetime, so far) to do it x

    Reply
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