A muted hello from Corfu, today. I say muted because it's hard to be chirpy was so much suffering going on all around us. I am sure most of you, like I, has been left speechless by the devastation and hardship Japan is dealing with. This is not the first catastrophe to strike this year; it, I am sure, will not be the last. Whether you buy into the end of days 2012 scenario or not doesn't really matter but, personally, I believe these cataclysmic events are becoming more frequent. Why - I do not know. Of course, some will say, its the wrath of God, others, mankind's blatent lack of respect for the environment. All I know is, no matter how rich and powerful and technologically advanced we think we are, we are but tiny, insignificant souls in the this wonderful Universe. We have no power over Mother Nature. This planet is not our right; it is a gift.
"Mankind inhabits this Earth subject to geological consent," says Simon Winchester in Newsweek. And, as demonstrated by the earthquake and resulting tsunami that brought Japan to its knees, this consent "can be withdrawn at any time."
So true. Why do we believe we are Omnipotent? Will the events in Japan change us? I fear not. Man is inherently selfish. No good sitting in one's comfortable armchair, spouting off about the wisdom of nuclear energy or the rising price of fuel when we all do little to curb man's ferocious appetite for the 'good' life. It comes with a price.
How do we sane? Perhaps we don't.
How do I stay sane as a writer? I am realistic. I know the odds of my reaching No. 1 on the New York Times best seller list are slim; which isn't the same as me doubting my abilities. I have confidence in my writing. I love what I do. It's important to stay grounded. Forget ideas of stardown and huge advances. Concentrate on improving your craft. Maintain a sense of humour and a touch of cynism. Oh - and the occasional gin helps. I leave you with an excerpt from Written in Stone...
“Tell me about Gus.”
“Gus...” Extracting himself from her needy embrace, he stood. Arms folded, he crossed the room. He reached out with a finger, touching the cheek of the giant man-creature. “You don't want to know about Gus.”
He spoke quietly, but his pain reached out and touched her heart.
“No one wants to know about Gus.”
“I do.” She went to him and slid her hand into his, fingers entwining. “I want to know what happened to him. My father taught me never to bury my head in the sand. He says toomany of us are guilty of doing that.”
He turned to her, lips twisted in a raw smile. “Apt turn of phrase, my darling,
softhearted Cassie. You see, I found him...lying in a shallow grave.” Focusing on the portrait once more, he rubbed at his temples. “That beautiful head. It was gone. They’d decapitated him and left his body to the mercy of scavengers. And for what purpose? So some rich bastard can display it in a glass cabinet…as if his head were some inanimate piece of china or glass wear. A senseless, avaricious killing, and no one gives a damn.”
Cassie held her breath. His cheeks were wet. She’d never seen a man cry before.
Moisture coated his thick eyelashes, but he made no attempt to wipe it away.
“I should be immune, but it never gets any easier. I came away from that clearing in Rwanda feeling so...dejected. That day is something that will live with me for the rest of my life. It haunts me because—”
“Because you feel guilty. Because you are ashamed you couldn’t do more to stop it.” As if with a will of their own, her fingers rested on his arm He made no effort to draw back.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he brought his hands up to his face, pressing against his skull with open palms, as if trying to push back every ugly image that must have been clicking open
and shut in his mind.
“How do you do it?” His bruised breath escaped his lips. “How is it you seem to know me?”
“Because I understand what it is to stand by and feel so inadequate. To know there is a creature in need and yet not be able to do anything to help. My dad calls me his eternal bleeding heart, always making every wounded bird, every stray puppy my personal responsibility, but of course, I could never save them all. It made me feel so guilty.” He dragged his hands away from his face, a fragmented smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. “We could be soul mates, you and I.” The smile faded, regret, once more painted on his strong yet so sensitive face. “Alex doesn’t get it, you know, can’t understand why I allow Gus’s death to eat away at me. After all I have been witness to enough of man’s cruelty to humanity and his rape of the natural world to be hardened against it. I’ve seen babies dying in the arms of their emaciated, desperate mothers. I’ve observed the ravages of
civil war and the utter devastation that it brings to a country and its people, but every starving child, each hunted and tortured animal chips away at my soul until think I’ll go crazy with it.
"Somehow, finding Gus—that majestic beast, beaten, degraded—ripped away any last
vestige of hope I had for mankind’s salvation. And you’re right. I do feel guilty simply because I am a man. I bear the brunt of our collective responsibility in my heart. No, Alex doesn’t get me at all, but you…