An article on Ayaan Hirsi Ali (including appended petition) by Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie. Please take the time to read and, if you agree, sign the petition.
I, as an atheist, have identified, naturally, with the British Humanist Association‘s aims for some time (though I’ve never felt the need to affiliate myself with them.) As a result, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that religious belief was not as prevalent as some would like us to believe. I was therefore fascinated and pleased to read the results of this Mori poll on the BHA’s website.
It has been a fairly constant worry over the years (okay, I’m exaggerating a little) that I’ve never “got” newsreader and knight of the realm, Trevor Mcdonald. He’s the only person I know who looked more like a Spitting Image puppet than the puppet itself. Imagine my delight, then, when I read this.
A huge relief.
It’s been an interesting and thought-provoking few days in my little corner of the world.
Having finished draft two of If I never and got it over to Emma at Legend Press, my old, familiar restlessness kicked in at full force and I went to work on the preliminary outlines for Children of the Revolution. The prologue and chapter one sketched out, I realised I needed a general chronology of my own school years (on which the novel is to be partially based… at least) in place, just to ensure that everything “fit” the way I remembered. I quickly knuckled down and got a couple of pages behind me before a little lightbulb went on and, on an impulse that stemmed from the realisation that I needed a fuller understanding of events from the opposite end of the educational spectrum, I googled the name of my favourite and most influential teacher from that period.
And ultimately found her.
A few emails into our correspondence, I’m already finding the confirmation I’d hoped for in her frank and intelligent expression of the events and missed opportunities of those times. And, as you might imagine, I’m more excited than ever about Children of the Revolution. Mrs. S. has already helped me see just how valid and, possibly, important this novel could be. This makes it a weightier responsibility, of course, and I have no doubt it will cause me a few nightmares over the coming months, but I’m already thoroughly enjoying the process and looking forward to the actual writing of this novel.
The above question has both fascinated and confounded me for most of my twenty-one years (that’s just over half a lifetime for me!) as a struggling in the extreme novelist. What is this peculiar urge to make up a bunch of people and put them through one kind of hell or another just to bring them out the other end “changed”? Do I harbour some crudely realised wish to promote myself to god-like status, however briefly (twenty-one years is brief, when you’re a god)? Or is it just, as I have so often thought, merely an extension and refinement of childhood play?
I don’t know. On the surface, I now write because it’s what I do — and however difficult publication seems to be to achieve, the feedback is always just good enough to keep me going. It’s also something that gives a little order to my day; I’m severely disabled and don’t work in the classic sense, so writing prevents me from falling into that mind-numbing, body-bloating routine of daytime TV and tea and biscuits. On a deeper level, though, I’ve always suspected that there’s more to it than that. A psychological trait or some evolutionary relic that misleads and drives me (a twisted version of the selfish meme!) Do my ideas belong to me, or do I belong to them? The writer as vehicle. And there I was thinking I was a creature of Free Will. Ho hum.
It’s a question I’ve asked of myself numerous times, as I’ve already said — and I’ve also asked it of others. That isn’t about to stop me asking it again, though.
Why do you write? (If you do!)
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