Category Archives: NaNoWriMo
I was raised an American.
I physically developed, formulated a personality, practiced social graces, and made friends living abroad, almost entirely outside of the United States of America.
Beyond America, as an American, no one gave a shit if your father was this race, your mother was that ethnicity, and certainly, without a hometown to tout, nobody cared which city/town/state in America your people came from. The determinant of a shared drink at the bierstübe or an all-out beat down was simple: conciliatory manners, meaning, demonstrating respect towards the culture one is ensconced in, for the sake of peace. This is how I came to understand “relationship building.”
Thus, my confusion when I arrived on these shores to find the Americans acting rather…feral…towards each other. As soon as I smiled hello, the marginalization began: What are you? What are your parents? Where do they come from? What neighborhood do you live in? Marginalizing box after box after box instead of just a, ‘nice to meet you’ in response. I thought it was a phase, but, twenty-three years later, that fervent need to make a person fit in a narrow-minded box is still definitive Americana.
Artistically, my race/sex/ethnicity/nationality/sexuality/etc does not matter. I have voiced men, I have voiced South Asians, I have voiced transsexuals through my artistry. It’s because I allow myself to be infused by these cultures that these stories and poems manifest, and manifest with respect to the attributes of the culture.
As an independent author, I had to manage my own marketing, so I tried assimilating into the literary world fold without utilizing Americanism, because it belittles me. If I’m only an [adjective] author, then I’m saying my art is only valuable to [adjective] people, which would be me belittling my target audience, the global community!
The last two months During the summer of 2014, I did decent with general sales but abysmal in representing my work without getting forced into a social cubby-hole. I incurred derogatory statements regarding my sex, my race, my ethnicity, and those statements then erroneously defined the quality of my novel.
While I try to respect the perspective of those who protect their “-ness,” I won’t allow my principles to be subjugated to the -ness. Does that make sense? That’s not my crutch; that’s that person’s crutch, and I needn’t lean on it. Here’s a sample of that:
There was an opportunity for I Blew Up Juarez to be featured in one of Tampa Bay’s [adjective] bookstores. This [adjective] bookstore, according to its owner, is the signature bookstore for the area’s [adjective] community. As well, the owner was a contributing committee member for a major area festival celebrating the [adjective] community, and she was THE person to talk to in order to be a featured artist in that festival. Struck gold, right?
The bookstore owner felt her endorsement of my work would be integral to achieving success in the Greater Tampa Bay reading community. It was here in the conversation I started to experience trepidation, as I observed her mentally pushing four boards together around me in the middle of her shop.
A bystander to our conversation felt compelled to declare, “We need to support all [adjective] authors!” He nodded heavily, proud of this statement. He supplemented his declaration by talking about inspiring the future generation of [adjectives], and the struggles of being [adjective].
Very rah-rah-rah this guy! I saw an opportunity and replied, “Thank you for that! I have copies in my car, would you like to purchase one?”
He blinked at me.
He looked at the bookstore owner.
The bookstore owner burned eyes into him.
He looked back to me and declared, “I wasn’t going to buy a book today.”
I retrieved my review copy of I Blew Up Juarez from her weeks later, as it became more evident her intentions were to puppet my [adjective] self, not my artist self. Even if she was a fellow [adjective] person in the literary community, she behaved like a complete asshole.
Unfortunately, it is socially expected to accept marginalization and profitable to -ness it up.
It’s disparaging, but…I suppose I’m the only one who sees it that way.
*: original post 06.24.2014 – edited content and toned down cynicism
12 days into December, and I’ve yet had a proper come-down from the literary Iron Man that was National Novel Writing Month. Because of the food holiday break and an unfortunate event involving my truck, I’ve ignored acknowledging my experience, which is important to do if one intends to continue writing. So I’ll use this slice of space-time to vent out the lingering emotions. Come along with me if you’re brave enough…
This NaNo was two years in the making. My very first NaNoWriMo entry was a novel titled The Black Parade. This was a very ‘thinky’ work, exploring the applicability/feasibility of Ayn Rand’s political philosophy, objectivism, to the modern American Conservative. During contemplation, the Republican National Convention was in town, sexy ass Paul Ryan was extolling Atlas Shrugged as his most influential work, and I was still smarting from a less-than-glamorous exit from Texas politics. It was a very angry work, resulting in sending the United States of America into a socio-political, economic collapse.
2014, I follow The Black Parade with The American Manifesto. I’m still running with applied objectivism in this work, but not in the ‘let’s prove Ayn Rand’s attributes wrong’ style; instead, I prove how we exercise objectivism in our daily living. All I did was, take the existing caveats of Rand’s theory, layer over them our Digital Age (technological determinism), our economic condition (class disparity), and our war attitude (Americanism mixed with Totalitarianism), and from them, tease out the ‘refreshed’ caveats applicable to modern times. Here’s the breakdown:
In which OT stands for Simeonic Objectivism in Theory and OA stands for Simeonic Objectivism in Application. Yes, I do have the right to name socio-political theorems after me, see my About page for the credentials, and yes, you’re welcome to utilize this theory in your own scientific work, I have all the background data at the ready if you’re genuinely interested.
I know you understand as a creative being, how even the most rigid, structured plans for a project can be annihilated by the spirit of the work. In The American Manifesto, I intended to create a civil war, conceptualizing the need for dominion, control, and establishing order paramount to healing, community-building, and sharing. Instead, the work became very introspective, and the characters who carried over from Book One started behaving very opposite of what they exercised before. When we last met Andrea, she was a cold, indifferent, hatchet-wielding slayer of injustice, but in this work, she becomes very nurturing, self-admonishing, and open to suggestion. This comes from my current metaphysical state, where I’ve reconciled my previous existence for what it was, and now, very open to guidance and suggestion from elders/crones.
Under the recommendation of an equally empathic friend, I read Dancing In The Flames by Woodman and Dickson, an excellent primer on the exploration of the divine feminine in her many forms. Followers of this blog have experienced my various Jungian references to archetypes, so why not incorporate them into novel form? What followed then, was the appearance of new characters representing the most common social archetypes who, in my opinion, impede our ability to be the best Americans we can be toward each other. Essentially, I anthropomorphized OA.
Of those anthropomorphized caveats emerged a theme: Wisdom over all. Wisdom over weapons, wisdom over dominion, wisdom over divisiveness. This excited me so much, I admit I spent more time sharing how each character came to actualize wisdom than I did moving the story along to its intended end, which was the meeting of all emergent leaders in the center of America to decide how to move forward. Which means, of course, this is now becoming a trilogy!
What taxed me emotionally was the case for the Republic of Lakotah. About 2009/2010, I read a National Geographic article exposing the apocryphal conditions of an Oglala Lakota reservation. I remember becoming severely emotionally invested in reaction! My soul ached. I felt a deep set fury, a mother-like protectiveness, a sensation of, ‘how dare they hurt my children!’ which was confusing because I’ve never birthed children, so I didn’t know of this intrinsic power. Later I studied then realized it wasn’t me in the ego sense reacting, but the Divine Mother voicing through me.
I knew there had to be a method in which I could constructively communicate my disgust with the United States government – which openly and unapologetically exacts colonialism upon a free-willed people – and the liberty presented itself during this NaNoWriMo. The Divine Mother took many forms – Angry Mother, Crazy Mother, Nurturing Mother – as the discussion of healing carried on in The American Manifesto. Andrea Killsen is of Lakota origin, and in this NaNo entry, I delved into her history. Her family is predominantly in Arkansas, some split between Oklahoma and North and South Dakota. I followed Andrea’s history for explanation purposes, but then folded it out to represent conflict, an identity crisis, if you will. What Andrea experiences is representative of America’s identity crisis: we collectively ignore/refuse to acknowledge our shared pain in exchange for the glamour of global superpower status. How super can we be when we abuse and torture and starve and demoralize our own?
At the time of composition, the Keystone XL debate moved to the Senate, where during discussion, one brave Lakota stood and chanted above the politicos, a reminder that the debate as to the benefit of the pipeline has to consider first and foremost, who has the right to the land that the pipeline will run through? The Republic of Lakotah formalized its sovereignty in 2007, but that sovereignty has yet to be recognized. Given fairness, given an embracing of our fellow Americans, permission needs to be asked of these people. We Americans should not be shocked that the Lakota and other nations will respond with a ‘fuck you and hell no!’ but we as Americans should delight in what they can build from a positive collaboration with ethical public servants. My outstanding thesis for The American Manifesto became thus: until we collectively right that wrong, until we recognize these nationalists and promote their right to exercise their sovereignty, and until we invite them to the head of the decision making table, we as a nation, will collapse.
America, we are young and naive and self-congratulating and ignorant and close minded and annoying, an obnoxious teenager sitting in the back of the Global Unity classroom acting up for attention, while the rest of the democratic world rolls its eyes and wishes we would choke on the next spitball we make. Wisdom. We are starved of it. And nothing amplified that more during composition than the deplorable decisions and outrageous reactions in Ferguson. This work was fueled by erratic despair, and I will need some time to personally heal before I can read through it.
I dare not pretend I have all the answers, but I feel I at least started a plausible conceptual framework for the recalibration of Americanism through The American Manifesto. I believe very much so in these straight-off-my-proud-to-be-American-calendar statements:
But I also believe it’s going to take an extremely traumatic ass-kicking before we get our shit together.
This was a heavy work, but I am proud of it. It was birthed from an authentic place, incorporating historical facts and real-world examples with the best of my cognitive ability. I exercised scientific methodology but I encased it in storytelling, so that the bitter pill could at least taste sweet and feel fun as it goes down into your spirit stomach.
If you made it to this paragraph, thank you for helping me recalibrate. I have much more writing to do…
Visit http://www.republicoflakotah.com/ to learn more about the Republic of Lakotah and the beauty of North America’s original peoples.
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My debut action fiction novel, I Blew Up Juarez, is a sweet 99 cents until DECEMBER 26th. Since it’s self-published, I get all your pennies!
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Thank you! Love you! Appreciate you!
The time has come…
Shouts to starrschaos, our wonderful Municipal Liaison for St. Petersburg, Florida! Thank you for my laptop badge! :D
Special dedication to all first-time WriMos writing a novel, like it’s never been done before…