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.
We writers area equal parts ego and vulnerable. The cliché is to develop a “tough skin” over the years and be able to take criticism. But we all think we’re geniuses, and we are. Brilliant beasts who are magical at hiding our softest parts behind a shield of “I already know” and “You just don’t understand the work.”
If you’re going to write you might as well write something that’ll potentially change the lives of your readers. Otherwise, shelve your words and save them for someone who needs affirmation. When I sit down to write I don’t want to say things that will safely get me sales. In fact, I care about sales only as an indicator for the number of readers I reach. More importantly, I want readers to be knocked back on their heels and say to themselves, “I didn’t know.”
There you are enjoying the advantages of not being accountable and then a writer moves in next door. At first you think, “Oh, this will be interesting…to have an artist type in the community,” and then you realize writers write. More importantly, writers stand up for the weak, abused, and disadvantaged.
I don’t denounce structuralism. Every time I watch a Disney or Pixar movie with my daughters and tears start welling up in my eyes by simple structural tactics, like music and camera angles, I’m reminded there is a reason it works. But I’m a literary writer and we are defiant bastards and we like to take structuralism and bend it our will. So we can look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “The industry will not make me a slave.”
So what do you do when a character is powerless? The first thing I tend to do when I’m looking to solve problems in my storylines is to turn to my immediate surroundings. For some reason, and I’m not sure where I got this from (possibly through reflection in the early mornings as I sip my coffee), I started to realize or assume or maybe just consider that all dynamics of story or narratives are in constant mimesis, so…if there is something missing in my story or novel (as is the case now) I start to look for signs and solutions in my daily interactions—in my immediate. I believe I’ll see the same thing, conceptually, happen at some point in the day if I just pay attention.
Like angels and devils breading hordes of bastard monstrosities, the impetus for the type of stories I like to write comes out of the comingling of two polar opposite ideologies. One is quite happy frolicking with idealism and innocence, while the other takes great pleasure in torturing countless victims. Together they make for unpleasant friends. The type to cater to your highest morals and simultaneously use those morals to bash you into the dirt.
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.