Sunday, April 8, 2012

"I do the best I can between high spots."

Hunter Thompson said that. When you're a person like me, a strange human-chameleon that either blends in with too many crowds or tries to sink into a wall and observe the things that most people will forget about ten minutes later, the high spots come often, but rarely do they linger and it's back down to the bottom to do the best I can. This past weekend was a tremendous high spot.

It started Friday when I attended The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival at East Central University. As always I enjoyed Jim Wilson reading from The Journeyman. Poet Alan Berecka read some great poems and shared some funny stories. Steven Schroeder was great. I had the pleasure of having lunch (too much curry chicken) with poet and organizer of Scissortail Ken Hada, Scissortail presenters and good friends Jessica Isaacs and Rayshell Clapper and others. After the afternoon session, I had the pleasure of visiting with many of the presenters at the home of Jim Wilson and LeAnne Howe. It was another one of those days that made me want to drop everything in life and finish either of the two books I have been working on for a while (The Thompson Gunner novella is still in the works and I've started something else that I will talk about shortly).

I followed that day up with a fishing trip to Lake Texoma with some good friends of mine that I haven't had the opportunity to hang out with in some time. It was just before dawn and I had been enjoying my two hours of sleep when it was time to hit the water. In about two hours we had caught 70 fish. I love fishing because the things that I would like to change but know that I can't don't take up one fraction of my thoughts while I'm reeling in that fish and it's a great way to build memories with friends.

Finally, I will be reading from a work in progress titled The Last Deer Hunt at The Second Annual Howlers & Yawpers Creativity Symposium (the link is here) on April 27th at Seminole State College. It is a collection of flash fiction and short stories set primarily in north central Oklahoma between the mid 1950s and the present day, and it deals mainly with Native Americans in this region. This is a collection that until recently I was affraid to approach. I won't go into too many details right now because it's just after midnight and I should be finishing up my paper on Sartre and Camus that is due in 12 hours. I was affraid of these stories because I don't want to become a cliche Native American writer, but after studying modern and contemporary American Indian writing I found out that it will be quite impossible for me to be a cliche since I'm not a Cherokee. In Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back there is only one Otoe-Missouria/Ioway writer out of 66 selected to be in the anthology. He's my uncle. There is not one Citizen Band Potawatomi. There are stories here that need to be told and it appears very few are trying to tell them. These aren't stories about how the bear chased the kids up a mountain and turned it into Devil's Tower. These are stories about how Cousin Pepper crashed his car on the way home from drinking and playing cards and almost got away with it, or the time Connie got so drunk she pissed her pants in the Deli Mart. They're also stories about realizing that change can be hard, but in the long run it is worth it and sometimes it isn't. So I decided to move forward with this collection and am now looking forward to sharing an excerpt (which I will post here in a few days) at Howlers and Yawpers on the same stage as LeAnne Howe, Nathan Brown, Phil Morgan, Ken Hada, Christian Morgan, Rayshell Clapper, Kelli McBride, Carol Hamilton and many other talented poets, authors, musicians and clay rubbers.

So, I'm coming down from Scissortail and Texoma and doing my best until the next high spot at Howlers and Yawpers.