The sought after and mysterious “voice” of writing. You watch editors salivate like Derridean defeatists about how magical voice can be when it “makes your foot tap to the rhythm.” Aww, how romantic. We are lovely romantic beings who need magic in our lives. Well, I’m about to take the magic out of the what, where, and how to find a literary voice.
Exploring culture through foods is nothing new to the literary world. Likewise, it’s not new to Native American literature. While we in the literary field know this to be true there is still very little exploration of the topic in thematic terms. How can traditional food and customs associated with consumption of those foods enhance the greater theme of a piece?
Degrees of love in abundance, and the smallest amount of hate lingers. But it only takes a small amount of darkness to cast shadows throughout the light. But my question is this: Is it love that keeps hate in existence?
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.
There are two things most dangerous: apathy and stagnation. For me? The former leads to the latter. It’s a cycle of violence I’ve always struggled to overcome. It’s like when I’m gourd dancing with my family, and I’m trying to predict by cadence and rhythm the switching of the beat so I can anticipate the appropriate next move–a move which keeps me in sync with my community but ultimately with my choices.
I like to think I’m too smart to be manipulated. I have a Master’s Degree. I’m an avid reader and writer. Critical and creative thinking is my business. Then I attend one of those Hollywood productions (of the better variety, like Life of Pi), and despite my knowledge of all those structural techniques I still find myself being moved, with the simple use of music and cinematography. What?! No. Not me.
When I watch movies, I tend to watch independents. Sometimes I’ll watch the Hollywood independents, if it looks like they’re only going to modestly apply structuralism. I like to think I’m savvy. I don’t want to feel like I’m a monkey watching for bananas, which Hollywood has turned into a science. If you don’t know how structuralism has put your brain on repeat for the last five decades, hit me up on the comments below and I’ll explain. This post is for Hollywood’s newest charity: Save the Rich!
Let’s say you’re in the office and you’re telling a story about someone. First you talk about what the person did. Maybe it’s something juicy, like a secret infidelity with a prison inmate, or maybe it’s something subtle, like they moved away from home. Then you go on to tell about something more recent, like, “Just the other day she was caught using her work phone to talk to this guy in prison.” This is the offbeat writing technique of the first person peripheral.
My father was am immigrant from Mexico. My mother a full blood Kiowa/Cherokee from Oklahoma. They worked the peanut and cotton fields when my sisters and I were young. I remember ducking the large rolling water sprayers in the fields; I remember the heat coming from the dirt onto my bare feet; and I remember living in abandoned farm houses in the Oklahoma fields. Let me tell you about cold nights. No, better yet, let me tell you about the warmth you can have from the thin layer of a blanket.
The fangs of a snake might seem to overpower the fangs of a spider, and on the surface it can appear as though the match is uneven. But we can’t forget the impulsiveness of the snake and the patience of the spider. And we must remember a black widow sits nicely on the tongue of a viper. Its patience is beyond the fast acting poison in its bite.
“There’s not much culture in this writing,” I’ve heard students say when critiquing student work or reading the novel of a Native author. Or they’ll say, “It looks like the main character is having an identity crisis,” and it can sound dismissive, but there’s something we have to understand about most Natives: We move deep into the center of culture and back to the periphery like an ocean in symbiosis with the moon.
One of my favorite lines in The Crow is when Eric (Brandon Lee) has T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly) duct taped to the drivers seat of his car, as its filled with explosives and aimed at a pier leading toward a harbor. T-Bird can’t believe Eric has come back to life as The Crow and as he struggles through whimpers he says, “Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is.”