As I sit here, buried under the cat (The cat MUST sit on me every time I write, and because it’s hot he’s extra cuddly) typing away, I’m pondering the past year.
I’m sure nearly every blogger in the world will write a retrospective post, and to a certain extent, so am I this year. On Christmas morning I was reflecting on the contrasts so evident in our world. It’s been a tragic year for so many. Here in Australia we’ve finished the year off with a siege in Martin Place, and south-east Asia has now seen the disappearance of the third aircraft of the year.
We live such sheltered lives here in Australia. Although we have crime, just like any place in the world, compared to many other places, we’re relatively untouched by gun crime and political motivate violence, which makes events such as the Martin Place siege even more shocking.
Our population is small compared to our land mass, and our continent is the driest on earth, which means that the vast majority of our people live around the edge, and primarily in our cities. A small population makes disasters even closer to home for much of the populace. As the events unfolded in Martin Place, I was struck by how immediate the whole thing felt. Our youngest studies not far from there, and I was grateful that he was home from Uni, and not locked down on his campus.
As we were reminded of the Boxing Day Tsunami, just a couple of days ago, I thought about the Bali bombings, the MH370 disaster, the shooting down of MH17, the current missing Air Asia flight and the ongoing Ebola epidemic in Africa. It seems as if 2014 has been characterised by enormous sadness and loss. There are ongoing wars in the Middle East, and conflict in Eastern Europe. My own country has a policy on Asylum seekers that shames me deeply.
Conversely, there have been some shining moments of the goodness of humanity. The #Illridewithyou hashtag was one here in Australia, demonstrating that out of darkness can come a drawing together of the community. Shortly after, a muslim bride laid her bouquet at the floral memorial, to the spontaneous applause of onlookers. We heard stories of miraculous survival from survivors of the Boxing Day Tsunami, and were able to rejoice with them, despite the memories of sadness.
I think that perspective is something we all need to consider. While disaster can strike at any moment, the human spirit often triumphs over adversity. Our stories are full of good defeating evil, people triumphing over dreadful circumstances, and love conquering all. Humanity seems born to hope.
My personal belief system reinforces this. It tells me that out of darkness there will be light. That sadness will give way to joy, and hope is the driver behind it all.
When I write, I hope to bring joy to people. That doesn’t mean that there will be no disasters in my stories – that wouldn’t be true to life in general, and certainly wouldn’t reflect the real world in any way, shape, or form, but I love stories of triumph over adversity, despite loss and grief. My favourite stories are those that offer hope despite the darkness and despite the grief. There’s a satisfaction in reading such a story. They make you laugh, cry, seethe and rejoice, and leave you wanting to know more about the characters and their lives.
I’ve written the final part of the Frontier Trilogy now, and I’ve begun several new stories, playing with a variety of characters. I sent a couple of the early short stories away to anthologies, just to see what might happen. One I received back with the comment “This feels like the beginning of a larger story.” I wasn’t unhappy with that at all, as it was, tentatively, the beginning of another book. The other made it through a couple of rounds but didn’t quite make it into the final cut for the anthology. Again, I wasn’t unhappy. That’s submission for you – sometimes stuff gets picked up and sometimes it doesn’t, and if it was good enough to get through the first couple of cuts then I feel that it’s done well.
I’m also about 25,000 words into another story – one completely different to the Frontier Trilogy, which should be full of political intrigue and action – if I get it right. I’m experimenting with using Scrivenor to write and compile it.
The new year is beckoning. I’m looking forward to what it might bring. Who knows what might happen? It’s a whole, new, wonderful year stretching ahead, full of the best and worst that man might do. At this point, I’m choosing to focus on the best.