This week: Our Orwellian RealityEdited by: Shannon
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Welcome to the Short Stories Newsletter. I am Shannon and I'm your editor this week.
Keep reading for your chance to claim an exclusive trinket!
"There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception." ~ Aldous Huxley
The news we watch and read shapes our perception of reality, impacting our day-to-day lives. What if the information we receive is incomplete, distorted, or false?
Throughout history, agenda-driven organizations have propagandized information in an effort to mislead and manipulate the masses. Adolph Hitler appointed Joseph Goebbels director of the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. "Goebbels soon envisioned an empire that would control schools, universities, film, radio, and propaganda. 'The national education of the German people,' he wrote, 'will be placed in my hands.'" (1)
Within months of Hitler becoming chancellor, the Nazi regime destroyed the country’s free press. It shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers, forcibly transferred Jewish-owned publishing houses to “Aryans,” and secretly took over established periodicals. Daily directives from the Propaganda Ministry’s Press Division dictated what could or what could not be published under punishment of reprimand, loss of position, or imprisonment. Oversight of radio, film, newsreels, theater, and music fell directly to the Propaganda Ministry, which used a combination of these media to sell Nazi ideology. (1)
Similarly, the United States CIA conducted Operation Mockingbird from the early 1950s until it was exposed in the mid-70s. The project consisted of 400+ CIA-controlled journalists who were paid to do the agency's bidding under the guise of patriotic duty. While the government claims the program was shut down in 1976, some would argue it continues to this day.
"Legitimate, accredited staff members of news organizations—usually reporters. Some were paid; some worked for the Agency on a purely voluntary basis. This group includes many of the best‑known journalists who carried out tasks for the CIA. The files show that the salaries paid to reporters by newspaper and broadcast networks were sometimes supplemented by nominal payments from the CIA, either in the form of retainers, travel expenses or outlays for specific services performed. Almost all the payments were made in cash. The accredited category also includes photographers, administrative personnel of foreign news bureaus and members of broadcast technical crews." (2)
In George Orwell's dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four we are introduced to the terms Thought Crime, Big Brother, doublethink, and Thought Police--words that have become incorporated into everyday vocabulary. Orwell paints a pretty bleak picture of a world where totalitarianism, constant government surveillance, organized propaganda campaigns, and ongoing war reign ... but Winston Smith, the story's protagonist, wants more. He wants what every human being on earth wants: freedom, love, and truth.
Crooked government officials, corrupt politicians, dirty cops, propaganda disseminated by the media, and everyone watching everybody else. Dystopian literature is one of my favorite genres. I've stayed up way too late more times than I can count because I couldn't stop reading The Handmaid's Tale, The Man in the High Castle, Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Windup Girl, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Running Man, Lord of the Flies, I Am Legend, The Passage, The Stand, and my all-time favorite Earth Abides, just to name a few. As I write this list I wonder why I haven't tried my hand at the genre. Perhaps one of these days.
Have you written a dystopian story? Is your protagonist a reluctant hero bucking Big Brother? Do your characters live in a world of lies, deceit, and chaos? Share your thoughts, comments, and stories with me and I will include them in next month's newsletter.
Thank you for reading.
"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed--if all records told the same tale--
then the lie passed into history and became truth." ~ Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
P.S. Every registered author who shares their ideas and/or creative endeavors relating to or inspired by this week's topic will receive an exclusive trinket. I will retire this month's limited-edition trinket at 11:59 p.m. WDC time on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, when my next short stories newsletter goes live.
1. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment
2. THE CIA AND THE MEDIA
Operation Mockingbird: The CIA's Operation Mockingbird Manipulated Media
The masterpiece that killed George Orwell
Operation Mindcrime (third album released by the metal band Queensrÿche in 1988--the day after I turned 20 years old. It was hugely popular amongst people my age and I, like most others I knew, played the crap out of it. It's still one of my all-time favorite albums).
I hope you enjoy this week's featured selections. I occasionally feature static items by members who are no longer with us; some have passed away while others simply aren't active members. Their absence doesn't render their work any less relevant, and if it fits the week's topic I will include it.
Thank you, and have a great week!
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The following is in response to "Fear, Self-Sabotage, and You" :
Jeff writes: I can't think of a time where I've ever written a character with a secret fear that they're trying to hide or protect. But I do have an awful lot of stories where the fears are front and center, out there in the open. I can't say that it's my favorite emotion to write about (or experience as an audience member), but it's definitely a powerful one!
Princess Megan Rose 17 Years writes: A great newsletter. I have a fear of spiders, heights and being around crowded people. This is informative and I will keep this in mind when I have fears. I worked in mental health and one person was afraid the heater was going to blow up or her roommate would kill her. I would think it was silly but I remembered my fears and I would reach out to these people. I was able to talk to them and reassure them. Sometimes, a PRN anxiety med would help them. Fear is real and I do all I can to help myself, friends and patients I took care of. Fear is real. I pray a lot as well. I did enjoy reading this newsletter. Excellent writing.
WakeUpAndLive~3years WdC writes: Fear, self-sabotage, and You. What a great title. It immediately caught my eye. I am in the process of self-sabotaging myself so I can relate. I find it extremely difficult to write these days because of a lack of confidence and fear. Of not being good enough, of not having anything substantial to say. Your newsletter was helpful in that respect. I am gonna sit and write some more! Thanks.
BIG BAD WOLF turns 30 6/3 writes: In the following interactive [see submitted items below], I have two races that exist side-by-side, humans and lizard-like reptilians, and for the most part, it's a peaceful existence, other than the fact that reptilians can occasionally claim a human as a meal, but even then, there's rules that must be followed, namely that the potential meal must be willing.
The one thread I have involves a young woman who was once almost an unwilling meal, and as a result, has developed a fear of reptilians, to the point she hardly ever leaves her apartment room, let alone the apartment she lives at, ordering what she needs online and working from her room. However, her landlord is a jerk, and due to the fact she can't pay for the entire room, he ends up getting her a new roommate, a reptilian. Will her nightmare come true, or can this reptilian help her to heal?
eyestar~POWER HOOP-LA writes: Very cool quotes by Canfield and I like reading Marcus Aurelius! Your message is a wise one as we do all deal with fears...and the mind has a lot to do with it. We are so creative in our imagination and what we have been taught. Having character flaws like that would certainly make them real. Self sabotage I certainly relate to! Seeing that it can be overcome inspires us as well along our journey. Thanks for your vision and inspiration.
Cadie Laine writes: Fears. They come in all shapes and sizes. You've posed questions about my characters I've not quite answered yet. As of right now I have a couple of characters that I'm working on and their fears include Fear of being alone after losing her hearing. Another has a fear of heights.
dragonwoman writes: I tend to avoid writing about my fears. But I did write a short story called "Fear of Flying" that really was more like fear of falling.
Jeannie writes: All those fears you mentioned are my fears. Spiders absolutely terrify me, no matter how small. When traveling to states with tall mountains, and driving along the road near the edge where you can look down, I think if we fell down there, nobody will ever find us. Now that is terrifying!
Elfin Dragon - poetry fiend writes: Fear certainly can run our lives. Whether it be for good or bad. And fear can also be classified as worry as well.
Editing is BLUE writes: I agree fear is the basis of most books. Without it some of our characters would be flat.
Jenstrying writes: Thank you for this! Your timing was perfect! I am struggling in the "real" world and have not been able to get on here much. A lot of what I am dealing with stems from fear. I don't push myself to get on here more because I am afraid to fail. What if they don't like what I wrote? I am facing the same issues off line as well. So much so I almost thought of giving up my writing. But I can't. It is too much a part of me to let go. And even if I tried to let go of it, would it let go of me? I doubt it.
Lisa Noe~Kittylove writes: Hi hon, You are correct we all or at least most of us have a fear of failure, atychiphobia, I know that I sure enough do. You must have done some real research to write this weeks newsletter, because you sure have the phobias down correctly. I think my biggest fear of all is of being all alone. I dread if something were to happen to my husband or mother, I would sure enough be left alone, what do you think you would call that phobia. thanks for the newsletter it was pretty cool.
Lucinda Lynx writes: How wise words!
Carol St. Ann writes: Hiya, Shannon!
Another great NL, to be sure, and what an interesting topic!
I have a main character who’s afraid to tell the truth. I know, crazy, right? But it’s making a heck of a story, and though he may never recover from his original fear, he’ll certainly develop a new one that’ll surely mess wit’ his head: fear of lying!
dragonwoman writes: I definitely have a fear of heights, but amazingly no fear of flying. I did write a story called 'Fear of Flying' but it was a dream sequence where the character normally had a fear of flying, but in the dream did not.
sindbad writes: Wow!
This is a basic human emotion you have highlighted so beautifully. Fear takes myriad forms in the conscious and subconscious mind of authors. The trick is to channel it in a way that contributes in a positive way to our endeavor. A great piece indeed...sindbad
Jeannie writes: Yes, I wrote about a character who was afraid of failure at her job, and I also wrote about a character who had a phobia for creepy crawlies such as spiders, or snakes.
I know I sure don't like spiders or snakes!
eyestar~POWER HOOP-LA writes: Cool! I love when you use quotes by the ancients! How wise was Marcus? LOL Not a story writer but I do admire how real characters are in books I read. I wrote a whole story once... I was afraid of spiders...well I did not like them near me and didn't even want to kill them. I saw a hitchcock film once where the spider kept coming back bigger. eeek! Anyway, on a writing retreat in the woods, spiders kept showing up so I began talking to one (in journal) and ended up writing a first ever kind of horror tale with spiders. Freaky! They say grandmother spider is creator of language so it may be a totem. LOL Thanks for sparking this memory.
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