It’s about to get real nerdy in here. Turn around and walk away. Don’t read any further. If you pass beyond this point of warning then all consequences will be your own and you will be held accountable. So… Do the right thing. Just stop reading now.
Sometimes I wonder about the critical thinking skills of our era. We are taught in school rote behavior. Regurgitate, bell rings, regurgitate, bell rings, regurgitate, bell rings. In that form of habitualization, we stop thinking for ourselves. You become even more aware of this tactic after you read “Social Class and School Knowledge” by Jean Anyon. Having had dropped out of school after the sixth grade I wonder how that impacted my ability to think critically about the world around me and its role in my nonconformity. I’m comfortable on the periphery. From this vantage point I find it odd how quickly our society went from hipster beards to tiki torches.
I’ve been revising chapter five in my novel for about two months now. On the second draft and I was moving along quite nicely until I hit chapter five. There was something about the chapter that wasn’t gelling. The previous four ran smooth and there was a dynamic quality that forced the chapters to more or less revise themselves. The plot and the character development coincided well with each other. Then chapter five hit me like owl shit hitting a windshield.
If you’ve ever watched a documentary on sharks then you’re familiar with the feeding frenzy. This is when a school of sharks start to feed on prey. It can be an attack on a single victim or a school of other fish, but once the feeding begins the energy multiplies over and over as the sharks feed. Soon the sharks are feeding in such a panic it’s as though they can’t stop themselves. Now I’m about to compare this activity to the way negative types make friends.
Do you think you watch the behavior of dark skinned males more closely than other people? Maybe you feel you don’t. Then you have to watch this video:
You were plugging away on the keyboard, doing your thing, writing your stories, singing the songs you want to sing, and then out of nowhere you get attacked by some overly competitive asshole. If you’re not competitive, then why would someone go out of their way to compete against you?
You don’t like to think of yourself as a Girardian cliché. Neither do I. But we like to oversimplify. Living life on the spectrum takes tremendous amounts of consideration (aka compassion) and tremendous amounts of time (aka love). But we live on a spectrum. Nothing is black and white. Not even when it comes to identity politics and exploitation of Native peoples.
When I think about creativity, or the impulses to create, and how there is a certain bravery or cowardice involved, I think of forest fires. You see, my cousins were fire fighters for the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. I love it when they regale me with stories of their adventures and sometimes these are about disaster relief, like following Hurricane Katrina, and other times they are about fighting large forest fires in Colorado or California. They tell me, “If the wind catches the flames and rushes the fire toward you, you have to decide: are you going to run through the flames?”
There’s a lot of insecurities in our very small Native world. Native identity is a funky thing. And people are people and people love power (even the ones who say they don’t). We hold things over each other. Sometimes these are purposeful attacks and sometimes we’re just reaching into the dark for anything we can weaponize. Unfortunately, identity is a bullet if it’s not a bomb and even when people are kind they’ll still use it to cut you.
The publication game is a beast with a big appetite. You’ve been there. You submit to this journal and then to that journal or a whole list of journals. Maybe you’re like me and you create tiers of journals and cycle your short stories through rejection after rejection. What’s the price we’re paying? No, I don’t mean the soul crushing price, but that will make for a great post in the future. I’m meaning, sad to say, the actual dollar bill cost for submitting your soul to the highest bidder.
The most dangerous thing you’re going to do is drive. Because of the frequency in which we drive and the comfort we get from believing we’ve mastered techniques to maintain proper focus, we get into that “conscious incompetence” space where we increase our likelihood of being in an accident. Similarly, I seem to find myself doing the same with my writing, driving on automatic. I’m cruising along and I’m not paying attention to my surroundings.
So this is the millionth blog/site I’ve created in this current lifetime. I tend to start these things with a lot of energy and write many entertaining posts which receive a lot of reaction. That’s great. I enjoy interacting with people through blogging and I’ve learned a lot over the years.