#WritersLife was the first thought I had when I woke. But I couldn’t shake the deep depression taking control of me. I felt an immense sadness. It felt like I was so inadequate that I didn’t matter to anyone. My life was so pointless and meaningless that no one would ever want to connect with me enough to care about my life. My mind kept circling around about how shitty a human being I was and how it didn’t matter what I thought or felt. My chest was heavy, shoulders sunken, and I could feel the length of my jaw pulling downward. I had little energy. Just enough to zombie through the last two days.
Someone tells you, “There’s nobody on that piece of land,” and you’re invited to stake a claim to it, build a home, move your family, and grow crops. Start a new life for yourself. That was the narrative fed to early European settlers and is commonly referred to as “The Pristine Myth,” meaning the wilderness is untouched and open for the taking. Then you arrive and find that not only are there people, but they’ve been there for thousands of years. I’m going to ask you one question: Has modern day academia created the same siphon?
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.
No one believes themselves to be like Azrael. If we had to choose between the cat and Gargamel, we’d all choose Gargamel–if push came to shove. We’d rather be neither, or think of ourselves as neither. But we’re one or the other in someone’s eyes. This article is an examination of how the “underling” can allow himself to be abused. And maybe we can resolve: Why we allow people in power to control us.
Have you ever felt like you were being watched? It’s a creepy feeling. And then you look up to find someone staring. Your instincts picked up on the energy and you knew before looking that someone was watching you. When I encounter implicit bias, it has the same effect. I know when I’m being targeted with excess negative attention. I wonder why someone is so concerned about me in my life, when I have zero interest in theirs. The person comes off as creepy, and likely harbors underlying racist and sexist ideologies about dark skinned males.
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.