When We Don’t Like The World


It isn’t that we want to have our way in our own lives, it’s that we want everything and everyone to do exactly as the we want them to do.  Writers want the stars to change, the weather to shift, the geography, the wild animals, tame ones too, countries, politics, every person, all destinies, every relationship, every thought…every dream needs to be just as we decide it shall be.

I didn’t know this until this morning.  I didn’t realize that if there’s anything I don’t like in the world, I erase it.

The media, for instance, they chat about the few things they believe which will sell (they call it “News”), and whole cultures are bent to believe what’s reported is true.

Reporters, for instance, believe that sharks are thoughtless destroyers of the sea, and reading, we think that must be true, no matter the tens of millions of sharks that don’t much mind about humans nearby.

Or they believe that the twin towers collapsed a hundred floors, suddenly collapsed into their footprint because an airplane apparently hit them, and that a building nearby collapsed even without even a single touch from an airplane.  It took me forever, to believe the buildings were deliberately demolished.

Because I had chosen to be a writer, and because I am a control freak, the day after September 11 was easy: I removed the television set from my house.  Why should I see that piece of film another 20,000 times again?  Because the media thought I’d be hypnotized to see it?

What a wonder!  Television gone, no more commentators, no more film, no more beliefs of a hateful world, no more advertisers who agree what I should think and buy, never a vote from me to destroy whatever our politics and media wanted to destroy.

So of course I had to build a different world, easy enough, given the invention of the pencil and paper / the typewriter / the word-processing computer.

I removed most humans from a world of ferrets, wrote ferret astronomy, their geography, their weather; the animals were all of them seen from a ferret’s life, from their point of view.  All of a sudden I was the loving media of The Ferret Chronicles.

What did I so dislike of the human world, left out to be trashed with the television set?  On my delete-list were the ideas of wars, of crime, of victims, of hatred, of evil, of mortals’ fascination with killing others.  Take all of those, wrap them in a magic tablecloth, and – pouf! – they don’t exist!  Not for me, not for my books.

Ferrets are bright little animals to humans: graceful, quick, thoughtful, beautiful, they’re curious, they love action, they have a sudden sense of humor.  They could be my world!

So five books were written (and one other, a collection that was all of the five combined).

Writer Ferrets

Ferrets, without the bizarre human-driven failings, raised their kits with respect always, urged them to follow their highest right, to live the adventures they imagined.

There could have been dozens of the books, but the sales weren’t there, the books stopped at five.  The last book was a paperback since the publisher decided to cut its hardcover losses.

But those five include the very best writing I’ve done, there was not a single Bad Guy in the series, and I hoped the books might be ones a young person could read to their parents.  I loved the world of the ferrets, and so did some of the readers.

For me, the control-freak, there were storms and angel-ferret-fairies and subtle destinies for the ones who lived on the page.  And one day I realized the bizarre truth…I preferred to live in the ferret world, not the human one.

We could change the human world, bit by bit, reader by reader, I thought.  We could read the Courtesies of the ferrets, and to know that each reader didn’t need the human world to change, they could simply begin living now, to their own highest principles.

The one thing that we control freaks don’t often do, is to force our stories on readers.  So today, unforced, there are just a few copies of the ferret books around the world, published in many languages.

There’s a full set of the series in English on my bookshelf, and on that shelf is my world.  The stars, the storms, the striving to bring ideals into every-day life: here they are.

Maybe I haven’t transfigured the world of mortals, with my control freakishness, but I changed my own little world, and perhaps the worlds of a rare few readers, too, the ones who finish these rare books with a smile.

Curious Lives









8 thoughts on “When We Don’t Like The World

  1. I very much enjoyed the Curious Lives collection….even though spoken through ferret mouths, i connected with everything they said or had experienced. In my mind i could hear human voices, the voices of our conscience.
    Having lived without television now for nearly 20 yrs or so, i find that i do have some ‘missing pieces’ of the general concensus of view of the outer world. I personally have yet to see any footage of the event of sept 11 in the states…i refuse as my world doesn’t have that. Some sometimes find me rather delusional because i prefer to see things with an eye towards hope and beauty. It has isolated me at times. So it is always a pleasure to find a story in a book, like yours, that gifts me with some companionship and hope that i am who i believe myself to be and affirms to me that love and kindness, human traits, are accessible to those who want them.

  2. I also delete all those videos that came to me by e-mail, wars between organizations. You can have hundreds of healthy adventures without having to load a single gun. I deleted in my life all the religious threats, and the price is the pleasant company with few writers who want to fly high, now I am in the company of those few writers and speakers. All I can do is be quiet example to my family and those who love to share my ideas.

  3. Richard, there is no “One size fits all” description for writ…..wait. Delete that.
    Last night when I first read this post, I disagreed with most of what you wrote. Then, this morning, I read it again, and I read the part where you want to change the world one ferret at a time.
    Just the other day, I was upset over some silly thing, something my grown children had done, and I wished once again I could run away from it all. Running away would be my Delete button. And always my dreams of running away involve isolated cabins with only internet, dogs, and water.
    I own four of the five Ferret books. Budgeron is my hero, and when this writer is stuck trying to control the characters that live in her world (who more often control me) I remember his famous mantra..”Words on Paper”. It’s kept me going many a writer’s blocked morning. The worlds I create are not quiet peaceful worlds, and there are Bad Guys, but Good always wins. That’s how I control MY world.
    I suspect we are not so different underneath it all.

  4. Oh, what a beautiful post to start the day! My first thought was that some readers are also control freaks in that way, at least I am.

    And the ferrets! I love ’em all. For too long, I’d stopped reading until about a year ago. Too many things going on here and I just got wrapped up in them. Then I zoomed through the last 4 books of Curious Lives (I’d read Shamrock), awaiting Travels With Puff. Sheer joy! I hope anyone who hasn’t read these will, and I agree with you (and your publisher) that they’re among your finest writing. And on a humorous note, Baxter the angel ferret fairy stuck in my mind, with his comments on death. It makes for some interesting replies whenever I happen to mention it to someone!

    TV? I have one. It only goes on when there’s something I really want to see. Both the horror and the triviality of “news” sets my teeth on edge. Loved what you said in the interview with Susan Burrell, on that topic and many others. I’d like to post a link to that. If you’d rather I didn’t, please feel free to remove it.


  5. Your ferret stories sit on my shelves — each of them, all of them — pulled off from time to time for moments of joy and words of wisdom, especially those found in Writer Ferrets. Thank you, Richard!

  6. Hi Richard, used to read all your books when younger… resonated so much with them.. so much inspired.. am writing an article about you, i remember having read about wars moving into sports.. forget the book name.. could you help. Best.

    • I think that was _One._ How I hope this world moves quickly to that state. There’s so much money not to be lost, but to be earned from war-sports!

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