I’ve been promoting my writing on my Twitter account for a few months now. Slowly but surely I’m getting more and more engagement and I’m nearing the cusp of 9K followers, and hoping to hit the 10K plus realm within a week or so. One of my followers, and now a tried a true fan, read through each of my short stories and came up with an interesting descriptor of my writing: hyperlocal.
As soon as I read the phrase it hit me as so succinct I could not help but become fascinated. This term may have been utilized in creative circles for some time. I’m not sure. But its my first time engaging with it. Largely, I’m interested in the description because of how accurately it describes my writing.
In my bio you’ll read how I’ve captured my writing up to this point, and I’ve said things like “regionally specific” and focusing on Kiowa and Cherokee communities like Lawton (Kiowa) and Tahlequah (Cherokee). Now those from Oklahoma will quickly point out how Lawton is Comanche Nation central, and they’d be hypothetically correct. But geographically I argue these boundaries are not fixed and never have been.
I’d say Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache (KCA) nomadic range in contemporary society is typically between OKC and Lawton, but you’ll find our scouting parties traveling further out (all this is a cultural rehearsal in a historical context based in nomadic practices that have been a part of our cultures for hundreds if not thousands of years). You’d actually have to have grown up inside a Kiowa, Comanche, and/or Apache family to fully understand this nuanced “roaming” aspect of our culture. Once you understand, you can see how our gourd dance culture is so deeply imbedded in other tribal practices across the United States. An example? Our, Kiowa and Comanche, gourd dances have widespread practice within Navajo communities of New Mexico and Arizona, but other tribes in the United States as well.
This is to give you a sense of how aware I am of Kiowa habits and behaviors, but not only Kiowa also Cherokee since I’ve had the fortunate circumstance of growing up within both cultures and moving back and forth between Lawton and Tahlequah in various forms throughout my life. These landscapes (Southern Plains and Ozark Hills) are not only imprinted in my memory, but my fiction as well.
When this individual from Twitter mentioned “hyperlocal” as a description of my writing, I started to think about these nuanced cultural practices, behaviors, and perspectives, and how it was born from “writing what I know.” And I think there can a tremendous benefit to this form of regionalism. What I do isn’t any different in theory to Faulkner’s depiction of the South during his time.
Readers crave escapism. And at the onset of using a term like escapism there is an immediate interpretation of needing “to escape from reality” as a coping mechanism. But I would argue readers are more interested in engaging with creative work to find a reflection of themselves so as to examine their own presence on this planet. They are interested in growth, whether this is a conscious or subconscious effort is an argument for another nerdy post, but all in all readers are looking for “safe” ways to examine their own condition. It is through compare and contrast we find new ways to behave. Sometimes these new behaviors are better and sometimes they are destructive. But we will survive by any and all creative means, so I believe readers are subconsciously looking for validation and simultaneously seeking new ways of survival.
The hyperlocal is a great way to find a place to escape, and to find a different culture to observe so as to better understand our own behavior. For me, this dynamic is on the surface. I love change, and stagnation is deadly. I want to become different. I want growth. But for others there may be a subconscious reason for engaging with the hyperlocal. The writing will resonate with them and they can’t pinpoint why–just that there is something appealing about it.
The means I use in which to tap into this dynamic? Is hyperlocal.
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(Works Cited: Both images were borrowed from wikimedia)