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.