Saturday, September 6, 2014

Writing From The Heart

I woke up to the sound of rain this morning and it hasn't stopped raining since. The rain stormed in early yesterday afternoon with a violent show of lightning and wind to match. But I like the steady, soft rain that's falling now. It's good writing weather.

When I retired from advertising, I vowed to never write another sentence. How I came to pick up the pen again was a friend had a crazy notion that I should write a novel. I told him in the unlikely event I could be persuaded to write a book, it would be something a little more philosophical in nature than fiction. "But," he argued, "You can use your characters to express your views. That's the beauty of fiction." I thought about that. I started writing The Tangled Web, which despite its light, thriller veneer is really an indictment of greed and corruption.

I'm writing another novel now. What motivated this story was pictures like this one I just snatched from Huffington Post - a bird on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast after being drenched in oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Heartbreaking isn't it?

Photo: Huffington Post

A U.S. judge has just ruled that BP's recklessness caused the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This could cost BP billions of dollars in fines, but that can never repair the damage to the Gulf and marine life. The terrible effects of the spill will be seen for years to come.

Greed can have far-reaching and long-lasting effects as demonstrated by two industries that have had a massive impact on the world - sugar and petroleum. These two industries have been powerful enough to influence the global policies of the world's leading nations. We're aware of the role Big Oil has played and continues to play in the world, but the role of the sugar industry has faded along with the past. From the 16th through the 19th centuries, approximately 12 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic to work sugar estates primarily. The Atlantic slave trade was the largest forced immigration in human history.

Below is a picture of whipping scars on the back of a U.S. fugitive slave named Gordon. This is a mild punishment compared to some punishments that were inflicted upon West Indian slaves.


My story weaves between 1802 (the height of Britain's sugar industry) and 2010 when the BP oil spill took place. The premise is that until the world learns its lessons, until greed ceases to be a motivation, the more things change, the more they will remain the same.

If you have the stomach for it, look at these pictures in Huffington Post taken after the oil spill.