Monthly Archives: March 2019

Alice’s future – through the looking glass

Creativity will be the valued commodity of the future.

No-one has to be a rocket scientist to realise that the world is changing at a phenomenal rate. While many of the underlying principles we learnt at school continue to be relevant what we do with that knowledge has changed. We are looking at a future where creativity across all disciplines will be a valued commodity.

This is especially relevant for writers.

Success relies on writers ability to create new concepts and works of the imagination.

Logic underpins our most admired inventions. This is especially so for robots and technology. What technology’s ascendancy has done, however, is to throw a curve ball at us all because all those jobs, created by the application of logic are becoming redundant. Robots are taking over the mehanical jobs that are driven by logic.

Now creativity and soft skills, once seen as less important, are rising in importance. Creativity and humanity will become the valued commodity because human emotion is the thread that sets humans apart from machines.

The ability to tap into the vein of insight we all have but which is often covered by the clutter of everyday life will be encouraged and valued.

Over the summer period (winter in the Northern hemisphere) I took a step back and read two excellent books. These two books discussed the qualities that will create success in the21st century.

The first was 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, and the other was The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani.

For a writer what these two authors say is exciting. Navigating through the shift in emphasis from logic to creative will be demanding. However, writers should find this relatively easy because their work is creative, whether it is fiction or non-fiction.

Yuval Noah Harari makes it clear that artificial intelligence will create new jobs while making others redundant. Medical diagnostics will be replaced by robots but the people who manage the robots will be highly skilled and in demand.

Similar shifts will occur across all industries and we, as writers, need to think about how that applies to our world. Artificial intelligence may analyse big data sets to create stories but that is probably not on the urgent shopping list of those people solving world problems.

Machines can analyse more data than any human ever will, but who sets the parameters of the analysis? People.

The skills the world will need in the future are those that relate to human emotion and understanding.

Harari makes this distinction in his book.

“Intelligence is the ability to solve problems; consciousness is the ability to feel things — pain, hate, love, pleasure.” Yuval Noah Harari.

Writers who tap into the human quality of being able to feel will prosper.

Kurt Vonnegut said: “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”

We engage readers by encouraging them to empathise with our characters and their journeys. We all relate to people who overcome obstacles in magnificent ways. That is life.

So, rather than becoming downhearted by the number of books coming onto the market due to the digitisation of publishing, see how you can create powerful characters whose fortunes readers want to follow.

Sources:

Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (London: Jonathan Cape, 2018).

Creativity – is it important?

Is creativity important? Ask any writer frantically juggling work and home commitments with finding time to write and they will say, creativity is as essential as breathing.’

The importance of acknowledging the need to express ourselves creatively was brought home to me when a member of The Story Mint, who had not written for a while, contacted us with a chapter for her story. In her message she wrote, “It feels fantastic to be writing again.”

She went on to explain that until she found time to write she was close to exploding .

The energy that drives us to create is undeniable. If we do not take time to be creative whether it is as a writer or in some other way, something tightens up inside.

Being creative is part of being alive.

The obvious forms of creativity are in the arts but there are many forms of creativity – a setting up a new business is intensely creative for example.

Thomas Merton says, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Any project that takes us into another world where we find new truths and discover new insights is a creative process.

“To send light into the darkness of men’s [and women’s] hearts – such is the duty of the artist,” says the great composer Robert Schumann.*

Artistic expression is the engine that drives creativity and what we produce can lighten a saddened heart or reveal a truth others had not considered.

This is the absolute importance of creativity…it challenges and informs. The reason our writer from The Story Mint thought she was going to burst if she didn’t write was because something within her demanded expression. If left ignored, that need would have mutated.

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his [her] life, every quality of his [her] mind, is written large in his [her] works.” Virginia Woolf.*

And why does no expression of creativity exactly copy someone else’s? Because every person’s stories is unique. The way we express that story is also unique and because of that every story lights up a part of the world in a special way. Our creativity is our link to the past and our vision of the future. We intuitively tap into that when we express ourselves creatively.

Sometimes finding time to write is really difficult. Life takes over and fills the days. However, this is what I do… I allocate a day (Sunday in my case) for writing and I do nothing else. That way, my brain switches over from work mode to writing and all distractions are parked to one side.

Do you think creativity is important?

Suraya Dewing
Chief Executive Officer and Founder

The Story Mint
http://www.thestorymint.com



The Smell of Smoke

The smell of smoke, the loud hiss of steam
Images of a 2-6-4 hurtle through boyhood dream
Wheels clatter on points, the steam whistle blows
The fireman stokes furnace; drivers face all aglow
Trees beckon as countryside flashes from sight
Children playing, stop and scream with delight
So many memories of journeys by steam
Old man closes eyes and hugs boyhood dream

Where did they go, those Great Western trains
Each with its own particular name
There was Mallard, Scotsman, even Elaine
Stopping all stations or a fast through train
Spitting hot water and hissing with steam
Driver and fireman working hard as a team
Clickety-clacking along miles of line
Alas, they’re no more, a great memory in time

Searching for Inspiration

Although the history of both Malta and Cyprus islands spans thousands of years, it is Cyprus that reveals its story without fanfare. Historical education is more a way of a gradual realization as the new inhabitant merges into the Cypriot way of life and culture; a culture that has grown hand in hand with religion and a mixture of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and British influence. The island has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era, and ancient ruins are scattered all over Cyprus, mainly Greek, Roman and Byzantine. After four years I have visited many digs, mostly Roman and two that are still active. There are several others in the planning stage.  

I have been involved in the arts and writing all my life.  Writing locations have been many and varied from family home to small flat and shared accommodation, both in the UK and abroad. When I retired, I decided to move from Washington State, USA to Malta. I had always wanted to live somewhere in the Mediterranean area. Malta, at the western end of the Med, proved too noisy and far too overcrowded, so after two years I moved to Cyprus, the eastern end of the Med. The difference between the two islands has been amazing.

My own introduction into modern Cypriot life commenced shortly after I came to live here. I was sitting next to a pool at a small village hotel when the landlord’s mother, a small woman with the most beautiful smile, came to me and in a soft voice welcomed me to the island and gave me two oranges. This is the traditional way to greet someone into the community. I have never forgotten this courteous gesture. It moved me a lot, and since that moment four years ago, I have come to love the people here and their way of life.

Outside the main cities of Limassol, Nicosia, and Paphos, the island is mainly an agricultural way of life. The people, mostly working class, are hardworking and days start in the early hours to avoid a baking sun in the spring and summer. Most shops and business’ are closed for the afternoon and reopen around four. Although a slow pace of life, the land produces an enormous amount of products including wine, bananas, all kinds of fruit and vegetables and the worlds best olive oil.

As a writer, I have never been as busy as now. Surrounded by an industrious people and living in a warm climate where healthy food remains as mother nature intended, I am continually motivated to write. Whether it be visiting a village or an ancient dig, I am inspired from one day to the next. Roman columns and beautiful mosaic floors fill me with awe. I have leaned on columns and stepped on a Roman villa bath floor, wondering what the person looked like who leaned against the same column and whose footsteps I was following in the bathhouse. Inspiration is a wonderful thing, and I have found an unlimited amount here. Tourists are beginning to flock here each year but mainly to shoreline beaches and the Troodos mountains and forest. I may be a little biased, but although I think the public should visit the historical sites, I hope they do not rush too much at the moment.