It may be seen as ridiculous to be worrying about short stories - about fiction, about the arts in general - when looters are smashing windows around England, burning down buildings. It's a scary time. I feel it's been a scary time for quite a while now. How can I ask you to sign a petition to show Radio 4 how you feel about cuts to their Afternoon Reading slots when there are cuts that deeply and tragically affect people's ability to actually live? I can't really answer that question. I can only say that just because I spend a lot of time here talking about short stories, about fiction, about writing, doesn't mean I am not also doing other things, privately, that I don't shout about, to help in other ways.
I am finding it very hard to write this blog post. All I can say is that I don't consider the Arts "trivial", a "luxury" that should be put aside, that doesn't in some way save lives too, or make lives better, or hold a mirror up to our lives to show us who we are, who that Other is whose skin we can't normally get into, whose shoes we have never worn. Yes, this is partly because it's what I strive for, it's what I do... but it's also where I get comfort, inspiration, stimulation. It's what challenges me, opens my eyes, doesn't let me rest easy, coast along. Short fiction is my choice, but of course it's not the only choice. The thing is: if the Afternoon Reading is being replaced by more news... what's next? At what point will there be no choice?