THE WORD ON THE .NET

Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Are There Any Good Stories Left To Tell? All Is Doom and Gloom.

Image - open license from WikiCommons.

Now entering the final stages of editing my latest story I have been pondering the writer’s eternal question of, “What next?” What incredible, completely new, inspired, never-before-seen idea will seize hold of my inner essence and set me alight with a creative fire that burns brighter than for any work that has gone before?

Answer: Not a sausage.

So instead I am left pondering the meaning of my existence as a writer, and a human being.

The mood has been set by the subject matter of my last piece, depression, infidelity, cancer, and unemployment. In other words my character’s life sucks – which is entirely my fault. Guilt gnaws away the  last vestiges of my self-esteem. Logging onto my blog I find 145 spam messages awaiting me. This is the fruit that now bends the boughs of my creative tree. I therefore feel the need to issue dire warnings and pontifications on the future of writing, creativity, and society in general. You have been warned….

Since history began the greatness of societies and civilisations has been measured not simply by their physical power: population, land area, Gross National Product, etc, but also by their scientific and artistic achievements. So how is our present society faring? Let’s face it, the film industry isn’t exactly at the cutting edge of artistic creativity; much of its output is derived from rehashes of previous themes and old films, or ideas and work borrowed from the written works created by authors and writers such as ourselves. It is not exactly common to see the book-of-the-film garner excellent reviews. Occurrences of films being inspired by paintings or the visual art forms are almost unheard of. Do the infantile daubings of today’s modern artists compare with the greats of history? Does the latest single by Snoop Doggy Dog leave our innermost being enraptured? This leaves writers, authors, playwrights, poets, and yes, some screenwriters, carrying the torch of creative endeavour for human civilisation in our present epoch of history. In the future our culture’s greatness will be measured by the written works we produce today. Feeling the burden of responsibility yet?

As products of the culture that we live in our inspiration and ideas will be influenced by the people, events, and environment around us – all expressions of our society. The bad news is our society is technologically based and therefore has an inherently limited lifespan. All the resources that our society relies on to produce power, and make up all the wonderful technological toys which get us through every day will soon be no longer be viable to extract. We can look forward to environmental catastrophe and global war on a scale previously unimagined as different factions of humanity seek to preserve a way of life that is already dead and dying. Don’t believe me? The Romans, the Greeks, the British Empire, the Mongols, various religious empires such as the early Muslim Caliphate, and Western and Byzantine Christian empires have all fallen, and now lie dead in the dust of history – trodden into the ground by the modern Niki Trainer of Consumerism. Never did the members of those societies ever think that they would cease to exist, and yet as all students of history know, the only concrete thing we can learn from history is that it repeats itself.

So where does this leave writers and authors? Our society’s technological death, imminent on a geological timeframe, may still seem a long way away when viewed from the perspective of someone of our limited mortality. So, our creative future is all bright and shiny and full of promise? Er, no. Some historians theorise that Rome was not destroyed by outside forces, but from within by forms of cultural apathy. In order to keep the restless populace happy successive emperors had to resort to ever more barbaric forms of entertainment to divert the citizens and prevent uprising. It has also been suggested that the excesses of immorality exhibited towards the latter days of the Roman Empire were, like maggots in a corpse, symbolic of the rotten Status Quo (not the 80′s pop group).

Is the rot setting in, in our society? Looking at culture as an indicator, many of the arts do not fare well. I have already mentioned the conveyor belt of Hollywood blockbusters churning out tired rehashes of the same ideas. Soap operas constantly go over the same themes, there aren’t even any new ideas for quiz shows. Music and fashion is now a parade of reused sounds and images. In the visual arts bricks are piled one upon the other in the corner of a room, and this ‘creation’ will probably sell for $1 million. Our society’s creative edge has become dulled and boring.

As writers and authors we are supposed to represent our civilisation’s last and greatest hope in the war against mediocrity, but even in fiction writing there seems to be nothing new. How many books have you read recently where you thought that you’d read it all before? Have all the plot twists already been used? Are there any surprises left to discover and write for our readers? Are our latest incandescent flashes of inspiration simply more sputtering candles failing to push aside the darkness of tedium and vacuous-ness that permeates the everyday lives of our readers? What can I write that is genuinely new?

With these happy thoughts I will bid you farewell, and ask that you leave some little rays of sunshine and inspired ideas behind you in the comments section below. Thank you.

N.B. Of course, all truly inspired ideas entered will be thoroughly and utterly plagiarised. :-)

N.B2. At the end, when you, your children, and your children’s children look back to when it all began, just remember that I, T. James, was amongst the first of those to prophesy our Doom.

N.B3. This is what comes of having an idle mind. This week I was to climb to the pinnacle of poetic creativity, and yet I was forgotten, spurned, and left languishing in a reply-less Email hell. If anyone has seen Bea on their travels, give her a nudge from me, will you? 

 

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17 Comments

  1. Aw, you make me smile, old boy.

    TJ, why don’t you write dystopian?? It’s doom and gloom and you don’t have to be sorry for it!!!

    Join us…

    • I’m glad you find my venerable age amusing Ms. Michaud.

      May I remind you that referring to my chronological handicap in no way extends the span of your own life, nor will it help you reconcile yourself to the limited amount of time you have left, and the amount of things you want to write.

      I would suggest there are more effective means available than diversionary tactics when dealing with Eternity Related Anxiety (ERA).

      As for writing doom and gloom, I hold City of Hell to represent the *pinnacle* of the increasingly violent and horrific entertainments for the masses I describe above. I therefore do not know if to join you, and those like you, is not, in fact, a morally questionable decision accelerating our societal slide toward chaos and depravity. It’s very well written though… ;-)

  2. Sorry TJ! I was away for a while, at a family event. I will email you, no worries.

    • Seriously Bea, no problem – whenever you have time.

      No worries? Hmmm, that depends on what you are going to set me as my challenge…

      I’m looking forward to it… :-)

  3. Ah the melancholia that sets in after a piece is done. Don’t worry TJ. Just wait, something will come round. It sometimes just takes something to get you to ask what if or to read a paper and wonder a question and you’ll be back in the hotseat again.

    There’s plenty of questions you can ask yourself and of course the key is, what sort of project are you looking for? Something upbeat? Something adventurous? There’s an idea behind every corner. Perhaps research something local that you find interesting? What ghost stories are set in your area? How can you wrap them to fit an idea? Is the ghost not just a manifestation but someone who has found a way to breach the timelines between thier time and ours? An early time traveller through natural phenom? The keys are there just open the doors until something grabs your attention.

    • Forlorn Writer: Hi Gareth *sniff* Thanks for dropping by *sniff* Melancholia is such a fabulous word *boo-hoo* I was moved by your empathy *bwwaaaa… sniff*

      Webmaster: ENOUGH OF THIS EMO NONSENSE! Practical suggestions are what you need – Gareth has given them to you, NOW GET ON WITH IT! YOU ARE DISMISSED SOLDIER!

      Forlorn Writer: *sniff* Sir, yes sir…

  4. Whatever inspiration comes, whether it be gloomy or glory, don’t fight it. Besides, sometimes it’s only through tragedy that hope can rise.

    • Hi Marianne,

      Thanks, but I wouldn’t fight … fighting off inspiration is like fighting ice cream with a spoon. It’s going to get in there anyway, so why bother to resist…? ;-)

  5. Sure, it’s true, all plots have been done before but I disagree that there are no new and surprising things out there…I don’t get the sense that I’ve read it all before –and I read a lot of the same genre…I think there’s hope for a great future for writers –an exciting future WITH technology.

    • Hiya Angie,

      Your existence alone gives me hope in a shiny future. How? If an optimistic Goth doesn’t break all of the current preconceptions and stereotypes under the sun, then what does?

      Because you exist, wonderful enigma that you are, it must be possible for things never before seen to exist, and to recombine current creations in novel ways…

      Thank you showing me the future is so bright, I’ll need shades (like Robert Smith’s of course). ;-)

  6. Think of society as an actual human being, with a promising youth, an active middle age, and a decline leading to ashes. It’s the natural cycle of things.
    As for the decline of the arts, you bring your own perspective to the table. Who’s to say what the future holds? Maybe there’s something special out there for us, that we just can’t conceive yet. Who knows. I’m here to enjoy today, and the gift of the moment.

    • Thanks for that Dianne,

      I too enjoy life – if Anne McC. is to be believed, in my moments between bouts of rheumatism, episodes of dementia and chronic occurrences of gout… :-D

      Like you, I’m also on the lookout for that something special. I hope yours strikes tomorrow, around 11.15am – you should reasonably be out of your PJ’s by then, and ready to commit the whole epiphany to paper. Leave the shopping until later and turn the phone off. I’d love to know what happens… ;-)

  7. I have about 43 things I want to type all at once and it’s tangling my fingers!

    Where to start… I love your sense of humor. Especially in your comment responses. I also love the way you write. I look forward to whatever you end up putting out there for the world to see.

    As far as your actual post, we all (especially authors it seems to me) get to this point at one time or another. Are your going to stay there? Maybe, maybe not. Who’s to say?

    Whatever the situation, keep your dreams in sight. Use the profound depression, sadness, and maybe cynicism to your advantage.

    Why not write a story about people in the same plight you’ve prophesied? (prophesied or prophesized… so glad for editors)

    All the ideas may be taken, but think about it like the kids game where we’re asked to repeat the same few words from one individual to the next. By the end, it’s always slight different.

    It’s the same way with books. 100 people could all set out to write the same story but they’ll each have their own take based on their own life experiences.

    Then there is always the what if game. I’ll base this one on your post.

    What if Rome had never fallen? What if their progress only continued until modern day?

    What if technology will be the very thing that damns us? What if technology is the only thing to keep us from being damned?

    What if we actually found a way to use the rest of our brain? Like JD Waye’s comment, what if by discovering how to use the rest of our brain through technology, we’re able to create something so unique we can’t even imagine it now?

    Are you bored yet? My brain runs 100mph on a slow day, I’m sure I could go on and on, but I’ll stop now.

    I treasure your mind and your writing skills. Be patient and continue writing, even if it’s not what you want to write. Eventually, the right words will come.

    • Hi Kirkus, it’s always good to hear from you…

      Being you must be great fun … and a roller coaster of imagination and ideas. I think, rather than writing a new story, I shall work on my long distance Deinspirationotron. If you find yourself running out of novel concepts and your characters are losing their depth, it means my nefarious plan is working and I am stealing your babies through the ether! MUHAHAHAHAHA!!! ;-)

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