If you look back to my Clan Gathering blog last year, you'll see I was about to write a short story titled ‘Catharsis’. It was going to be the final piece in a new, revised edition of ‘The Price of Fame (and other stories) which was first published and sold a few copies – perhaps on the wake of the Jimmy Saville ‘scandal.’ I was pretty positive about the year ahead - so when did the wheels come off?
This year has been like wading through treacle for me. Especially latterly. We’ve had the Fort Augustus and other boarding school/care home sex scandals, the youth football sex abuse scandals, the Hollywood sex scandals and now the ‘bullying’ and ‘inappropriate behaviour’ in parliament sex scandals. It’s everywhere folks. I venture to say it always has been.
People are no longer turning their heads away. And that’s supposed to be a good thing. We are told that ‘victims’ will now be ‘believed’ and that will somehow set them free. But no one is talking about the generational and life-long damage that has already been done. Or what can be done about it.
How do you compensate someone for lost opportunity? All the acceptance in the world doesn’t do that. Sometimes when things are smashed into a million pieces you cannot rebuild.
This isn’t just a problem of sexual abuse of course, it’s a world-wide problem. What about refugees? What about anyone who has grown up knowing nothing but war, or ISIS or bombing? What hope is there for the future of the world when generation HATE comes of age?
If only it were one generation. The ‘potential’ of future lives which carry the scars of the way the world has been scares me. The waste of ‘potential’ and the stealing of opportunity from my generation (and those older and younger) leaves me angry but helpless.
There is no ‘I’m sorry, we shouldn’t have treated you like this’ in the world that will make up for the jobs lost, the confidences battered, the chance to express oneself creatively and develop skills necessary to build ‘resilience’ due to the way our society is run. You can’t retrofit this.
When things have been seen and experienced they cannot be unseen. Even forgiveness doesn’t make people forget. Recognition of PTSD doesn’t ‘cure’ people. And I am toiling mostly because I can’t see a way out of the darkness.
Words written are like things seen. Once read you cannot unread them. You can, however, deny or ignore them. More than that, you can devalue the whole process and result of writing – which is what seems to me to be happening in our modern world.
Reduce everything to 140 characters of abusive tweet. Take away the alphabet and replace it with emojis. Post pictures instead of words. Comments instead of blogs. If it can’t be said or read in 10 seconds you’ve ‘lost your audience.’
As they say, OMG!
Writing is therapeutic (to an extent). It can be ‘cathartic’ as it offers one the chance to reflect and view one’s lived experience from a different perspective – at least as much as it offers the opportunity to bear witness. And to a large extent I'm happy with that.
When we drown in the Internet of Babel and no one reads what we write – that doesn’t always feel like catharsis, right? That feels like being marginalised, overlooked, ignored. Which is better of course than being scorned, spurned and trolled – the favourite activities on social media.
My ‘catharsis’ story in the making was (and is) a very personal one. One day I’ll get off my arse and work it out – write it out. But what good will it do?
We all have things to say. We rush to the new shiny toy of digital publication. Self-publishing is liberation right? Wrong. In the same way that social media can be the most anti-social space in the world, there is no silver bullet. No golden ticket. Most of the time we’re being sold a pup. Follow the bouncing ball. Or that’s how it feels to me a lot of the time.
I’ve realised it’s about a lot more than the writing. And that it’s about more than writing as therapy or even personal catharsis. It’s about creative communication. Both of which seem to be under threat as we drown in a world which devalues both.
I’m not a ‘fighter’. I don’t want to ‘fight back.’ I just want to live my life and share my thoughts and experiences in as positive a way as possible with other people. Not for profit. It’s sad that this is considered a strange and ‘marginal’ desire. Think of the hits the ‘dark web’ gets compared to the activity around McRenegades (or indeed all of the activity of all of the McRenegades in all the places they write). It’s not a happy thought.
I’m sure that this first Clan Gathering slot should be an ‘upbeat’ ‘welcome all’ sort of slot – but hey, we’re McRenegades, we do things differently. And I don't feel that upbeat.
The only really McCreative thing I’ve done this year is try to pull together this McRenegades clan gathering. I don’t know whether it’s been hard because I’m toiling or because others have similar issues with confidence. I think for many of us, hope is fading that what we are doing has any positive impact or purpose. And that’s sad, because the old cliché ‘unity in strength’ has never been more appropriate. If we don’t join together, and share our hopes, fears and voices, we are just so many voices shouting in the wilderness of an infinity of virtuality. And still so isolated.
McRenegades exists in the marginalia of virtual society. It’s not trying to make folk rich, or famous. It has two goals. Firstly it offers a free platform for voices. Secondly it offers a space for people to share – to come together (virtually) and be a community of writers unlike any other. Even if the wider world isn’t interested, I’d like to think the participants value that. I’m losing a bit of confidence on that score this year. But maybe it’s just me that’s ‘toiling.’
I hope you enjoy what we have to ‘share’ this St Andrews Day and look forward to chatting with some or all of you at some point during the day via the comments boxes or Facebook page. It’s not about ‘converting’ people or ‘selling’ to people. It’s not ‘sexy branding’ but then, perhaps that’s just what the world needs right now. A few ( a very few) people who can see beyond the glitter of aspirational living.
It’s not just about writing, it’s about who we are. Let’s get to know each other.
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