I hiked into the Grand Canyon. I must’ve been in my late twenties, maybe early thirties. It started out as a walk to look over the rim. I had camped the night before in a tent at one of the sites and woke early (probably about 5am). I was there with a friend and she was still asleep. As the sun rose out of the east, I decided to follow the paved roads toward the rim of the Grand Canyon.
What to do with a great idea? Let’s sit down and map out a novel. Writing in the dark is a popular way of writing short stories. We get an idea. We pull out the laptop. We write until everything is on the page. As we write, we don’t know where the story will lead and this suspense and feeling of surprise keeps us writing, it builds adrenaline, and keeps us guessing as we finish a story. But there may need to be a different approach when it comes to a 25 chapter novel.
We’ve heard the reified stories of men brutalizing men. A rehearsal of patriarchy. In fact, hyper masculine bullshit permeates our lives. We see in the media, if not in our daily lives, the ramifications of patriarchy unchecked. So what’s the answer? Men are being called out now more than ever and violence continues. Wars haven’t stopped. We hear about a mass shooting in the U.S. almost everyday. In my debut novel, Unsettled Between, Ever Geimausaddle faces his own brutality with the help of an underground matriarchy.
Like clipping and pruning back branches on a bonsai tree. Then we wire and train those branches to spread in the appearance of organic design reflective of the natural environment, taking careful consideration and steady hands. We have to make the right decisions. I’ve been revising Unsettled Between over the last two months and it’s been a transformative process not only for the novel but for me as well.
What I’m about to say is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, especially an older generation who built their identity on the backs of a sovereignty based in contention between governments. But ultimately a shift occurred while many were sleeping, and this wasn’t something the younger generation brought about. We were simply swept away in the waters and learned to swim for fear of drowning.
Suppose you’re at a coffee shop and you’re telling your best friend about your workday. You’re saying so-and-so is building a case to take to human resources and will file a lawsuit soon. So-and-so has evidence of coercion and retaliation. Maybe it’s based on gender. Maybe it’s based on race. So-and-so will also file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a federal employee complaint due to implicit biases at work. Then you notice someone at the next table staring and listening with interest at all the juicy details.
We’re tweeting and sharing and posting. We touch on a politically sensitive subject. And we don’t hesitate to engage in a friendly dialogue amongst community members. This is how folks learn. The back and forth sway. As we all know, a simple text exchange can quickly turn a meal of delicacies into a food fight.
Often I sit here in front of this computer and think about how to capture the voice of a narrator. Voice is the darkness around the thief, his soft footsteps, and his choice of victim. There is nothing innocent about what we writers do. We’re persuasive colonizers seeking to intrude on your sensibilities. We’re convincing–softly so.
Natives watched as a liberal stronghold quickly collapsed with a simple bait and switch. How did the conservatives do it? They just repeated everything Nathan Phillips said by placing his words into their context. So why did liberals collapse so quickly? There has been an ongoing issue within the liberal community, and conservatives make the criticism often: liberals are snowflakes.
I’ve said this before: If you don’t want to be villain in fiction then don’t be one in real life. The beautiful thing about graduating from two different writing programs are the connections made between creative writers and journalists. We tend to be tasked with a similar challenge. How to captivate an audience.
Metaphorically #DVpit becomes water. Likewise, I could say Twitter is some type of container–a canteen maybe–something tethered to your belt. Whether you’ve been slinging a sledge hammer to break rocks or ripping callouses off your hands for grip on a climb, you’re exhausted and you could use a drink. What you need is opportunity and energy to keep climbing, to keep breaking those rocks.
Often we spend so much time looking down at our phones we forget to look up. I catch myself looking at the stars at night and the moving clouds in the day, realizing I’m watching them like I had when I was kid. Those were days before Reasor’s Grocery Store in Tahlequah moved from Choctaw Street to Muskogee Avenue, and back when there was a drive-in theater outside my aunt’s house on the southside of Lawton. Back then, we never looked down.