Sunday, July 8, 2007

Atlantic City; Ewando, South Africa, Ironwood Michigan,

(What do they have in common?)
by Billie A Williams
Reading one of Eric Maisel’s Sunday newsletter/notes is always an education, always interesting and mind opening. Today Eric is visiting New York City. From describing the rental unit he is rent/borrowing from a retired doctor on a trip of her own to another part of the US – to his trip to other parts of New York he intrigues, enlarges your life, and provides fodder for thought. I dare not miss his inspiration for the week. Here is a tidbit of what he had to say today

“…Atlantic City. We walk into a pitch-dark casino where a five-storey-tall animated vulture is saying something. The boardwalk is broiling and you can't actually see the ocean, as the boardwalk is separated from the ocean by dunes; and between each casino is a strange patch of shanty housing that you aren't supposed to notice.”

I don’t know about you, but that absolutely had my visual creativity on edge – the part about the “strange patch of shanty housing,” reminds me of so many places where the locals have become so used to a particular eye sore that they no longer see it. Is the shanty housing slums? Are they squatters? I’m curious right away. What is Eric’s picture of shanty housing? Is it the same as mine? If I wrote to ask him, I’m sure he would answer right away, but I’m stubborn that way—I want my vision. I want it to match what I wrote about in my South African Adventure Novel,Tung Umolomo. Or, at the very least, the shanty town under the bridge in my Knapsack Secrets. (You can read 1st chapters of each on my website at )

You see the shanty town in South Africa’s make believe space beyond Ewando are tin and cardboard hovels that the locals working in the city have constructed because they aren’t allowed to live in the ‘white’ housing. They must commute to work for minimal wages, in jobs that no one else will work hard enough to fill. The picture of these shanty towns with children playing in the dirt streets in stagnant water puddles – where no central plumbing is available, makes me cringe. My heart nearly breaks for these children.

The shanty town in Knapsack Secrets is under a highway overpass. Motorists, oblivious to the shattered lives below, race past to their day to day ‘important’ stuff while below, people are starving, people are hurting with no health care, children are playing in the dirt and learning their lessons from parents too stressed and too distraught to concentrate on anything but where their next meal will come from. These sights break my heart too.

They are both fictional, but they are both also very real in our world. As is the case for many, if not most homeless people—it was chance, not choice that put them in these circumstances. If my books can spark a tiny bit of empathy in people’s hearts to try to help make these conditions disappear – I will have fulfilled my purpose in this life.

As for Eric Maisel – look him up at Amazon or wherever good books are sold or do a Google search on his name. He will make you think, challenge your beliefs and goad you, very gently and almost without your knowing, into making a difference in some small corner of your world.

Feel free to use this article in your newsletter or magazine as long as you keep the resource box with it. Thank You!
Billie A Williams is an award winning mystery/suspense author.

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