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.

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“How many lives do you think you have lived?” someone asked me, and I responded “In this lifetime, I’m on seven.”  I’m sure she meant previous lives, as in reincarnation in its literal meaning, but if you’re going to have a conversation with an artist you have to understand our minds work in symbols.  I’m going to speak metaphorically before I speak literally.  It makes more sense to do so when you consider the multifarious dynamics in life.  Everything is fluid, ever changing, like narratives and lifetimes and phases, making for a rollercoaster ride in the dark.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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