Welcome - The International Writers Magazine
- Editorial 2011
Welcome to the September edition of Hackwriters.
Welcome to our September Issue. That’s what we do in the summer think about things and write stories. We will add material as it comes in of course. Enjoy our stories and features, let others know it is here and here’s hoping you all have a great September - financial meltdowns notwithstanding.
Editorial: Thinking About The Future whilst watching the huge Biarritz waves
9/11 is remembered by everyone last weekend and it doesn't seem like ten years already, but it is. So glad we got through it without trouble. So much has happened to the world, not least wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that will scar a whole generation as well as the soldiers who have fought over there. Sometimes it feels like it was all for nothing as corruption rots Afghanistan and bombs still go off in Iraq. The war has virtually bankrupted the USA (all those billions each month to keep the soldiers there) and the UK isn't far behind. We prefer our wars to be shorter. The successes in Libya (despite Gadaffi being still in hiding) are more satisfactory and one wishes Libya well as it finds a way to democracy.
Have we learned anything in ten years? Life is more uncertain for sure. The endless recession is annoying and is making those over fifty without jobs insecure forever and those under 25 without jobs and expensive degrees nervous they will never have one. Meanwhile technology is changing everything we do and sometimes I feel like the guy who used to have an important job tending horses at the Inn on our highways. What was once seemed essential and necessary was suddenly no longer needed when the automobile came along- but the man (or woman) remained - the horses were used to fight World War 1.
I am pretty sure that I fully intended to reflect on the fin-de-siècle present in contemporary times. It would have gone along the theme that just because a century ends at a certain date it doesn’t mean that the juggernaut of a centuries doings end so neatly and all begins again.
Just as the 20th Century didn’t really get going until ten years into it – I think the same is happening now. In 1911 electricity, cars, telegraphy, sound technology, film, flight and of course warfare were all being refined from inventions and processes patented twenty or more years before the end of the century. Yes, things speed up, but not so much you can’t see that it is all playing out in a similar fashion to the past.
The most obvious thing of course is the effect of the Internet on our lives. At first it was email, then tentatively – on-line travel purchases, and a kind of false dawn with the first dot.com bubble. Now we know that our lives are being completely transformed by the Internet and mobile technology. (Take a look at the Apple launch of ios5 to fully understand just what is happening as all Apple devices integrate and we step away from ever actually need a computer). Not just the way we work has changed (if we have a job) remembering that many jobs that have been transferred to India and China, but how we live or even think. Technology has given the already well imbedded idea of instant gratification a bigger push and patience is a lost cause as consumers refuse to wait and loyalty to brands can be switched on and off at will. Loyalty altogether has been devalued. Employers’ no longer value employees – we switch insurance, electric, gas, and other suppliers regularly. We all believe we are being ripped off by everyone. Faith in professional classes has plummeted, trust has evaporated and we no longer really know what profession is safe to pursue. Writers can see that the publishing model of agent/ publisher/ bookshop is disappearing fast; e-books empower the writer but how to be found and how to make money from it? Is there a real risk that creative industries as a whole but more importantly creative individuals will be the loser? (Unless you develop and app). If people can't make money from writing - they will simply give up and become... yes that's the problem. What exactly. Writer's write, musicians play and flirt always with poverty. And yet we still continue to start up yet more MA's in Creative Writing. What we need are MA's in 'How to make money in a fast changing creative electronic environment'.
If I were a school leaver now I would have no idea whatsoever what kind of degree to study for that will guarantee me a job. I would recommend learning to be a plumber or skilled artisan however as they seem to be in chronic short supply. (Witness New Zealand recruiting ten thousand builders in Ireland at the moment to help with rebuilding after the quake).
Part of my own disillusionment is the fact that my house has been for sale for nine months now. Yes I sold it and allowed delays and even when they lost their first buyer let them find another, but yet again it has collapsed and I realised that I was the fool for being ‘polite and flexible’ - big mistake. The rules have changed. It is dog eat dog in the 21st Century. That is the truth of the matter. Social cohesion is disintegrating. The younger generation can’t ever see a time they will own a home. (Apparently according to the Washington Post recently there is a shortage of good $20 million dollar homes in LA and £20 million pound houses in London).
Oddly enough the same set of circumstances faced my generation when we were students with inflation at 25% and stagnation. No one would give us a mortgage and we couldn’t have paid for it anyway. Somehow we survived. I didn’t buy though until far too late. Being a writer then, as now, is a sure fire way of ensuring eternal poverty and bad credit ratings.
At the dinner table in France two weeks ago were discussing the fact that there are Seven Billion people on earth right now. (Only two point five billion when we at the table were born, fifty plus years ago). Malthus was in fashion back then, Small is Beautiful was in the bestseller list, as was Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. For a time we thought that just because we could feed the world everything would be fine. But finding work for this world, the schools, houses, infrastructure, safety, and good health and high-nutrition? A tall order. The economic turmoil we are experiencing now is but one manifestation of the difficult road ahead. The Arab Spring is another and let’s all celebrate the liberation of Libya now at least and hope for the liberation of Syria later.
However the rise of China (as a military power) is probably going to be the big story of the 21st Century as they decide to use their financial and political muscle to get what they want. Selling to the world and grabbing all the minerals won’t be enough. History tells us that eventually they will want more and they have a huge Army and Navy to exact punishment on all those they resent. Taiwan, Japan, America… Think it won’t happen? Well imagine a day when unrest is ubiquitous in China, shortages compound social difficulties, those who have made fortunes are resented by those who have not. A Government could distract the disaffection with war. It works for a while and unites the country. Reading the runes in the Biarritz sand that would be my bet for the next quarter of a century and the parallels are all there to see in the 19th. Just the names change that’s all.
What will happen to us in the West? A slow decline I guess. Once there was Rome and it was all-powerful – now there is Italy. It still has influence, it is still a wonderful place producing high value products, but it has little influence on the world around it. That is our future I think. No doubt I shall think more on this as I struggle to sell my house. You are welcome to put your own pennyworth in. That’s is what Hackwriters is for. I think. Well, within reason.
If you want to see where we are all headed for real read Paulo Bacigalupi’s The Wind Up Girl – the most clear vision yet of the future of mankind.
Editor – Hackwriters.com
© Sam North September 9th 2011
Author of 'Diamonds - The Rush of '72'
The Fantastic True story of the 1872 Diamond Rush in the USA
Many thanks to all those who have contributed to this September edition from all over the world. Many thanks too to those who have bought my books recently (Discounts now available via Lulu). Another Place to Die has passed the 3000 figure now and that cheers me up and is now available as an e-book. Now if I could get Mean Tide or Diamonds to sell as well, I'd be really happy you can now download them as e-book on iTunes or Lulu. It really does help keep Hackswriters going. Take care out there. Get writing.
The good news is my Sherlock Holmes novel The Curse of the Nibelung is now available as an e-book on itunes. Download here or Here
**Also available as an e-book Diamonds - The Rush of '72 be the first to download
Mean Tide by Sam North *Buy now and get 25% off
(Now a Young Adult Mystery e-book)
Mean Tide - a tale of spiritualism and a young boy's fascination with a murdered man. Lulu Press - ISBN: 978-1-4092-0354-4
Review: 'An engaging, unusual and
completely engrossing read'
- Beverly Birch author of 'Rift'
His father has disappeared, his mother is sick. Oliver, recovering from chemo, is sent
to live with his psychic Grandma by the river in Greenwich. Oliver quickly
discovers he is living with a world of strange people. When he finds a dog with
its throat cut on the riverside, everything changes. Oliver wants to find the people who did this terrible thing and discovers the terrible truth about himself.
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