I haven't posted anything in well over a month. George and Willow still aren't really getting along. They tolerate each other to a point, but then I'll turn around and George will be pouncing on her or she'll be hissing at him. It sounds like I'm turning into a cat lady so I'm going to move on and not talk about them for a bit.
I'm stuck in a total rut when it comes to writing my book. I know the entire story in my head, but all the words I've written are total crap and I've been using the delete button more then the space bar. Charlie's story is pretty powerful stuff. I have to tell it right or it won't have the effect on you readers that I want it too. Obviously the bits of the short story below that I've been posting are what started me writing Charlie's tale. I was writing about Ned, originally trying to get into the head of drunk and killer, that was my intention anyway, but the story never ended up taking that route. And then I started pondering why I would give that type of human being so much attention? Ned by the way is based loosely on a real man. Very loosely, since his character seems to have changed quite a bit as I started writing and it was Charlie that started bothering me.
When I lived out in Montana I worked in a Native American Studies Department. I had an interesting opportunity to learn a little more about the small population of Native students that go to the school. I think because of this I was more aware of them then my friends. One thing I was asked during my interview, was whether I would have any problem dealing with Native students whose feelings towards whites were perhaps not so much unkind, as not very warm. I was also basically asked if I was racist at all. Naturally I said no because I don't know know how anyone can think that way and I got the job, etc. That kind of closeminded viewpoint is just not a part of me and I have no real perception of how a person can judge people by the color of their skin, beliefs, and I think it's important to learn from our history, but move past our the tensions that held us back in the past.
I've spent a lot of time pondering racism in America, a land with thousands of cultures living together. I myself had never run into racism until I went out to Montana. I don't really feel like I have the right to nor could or should I describe some of the situations I ran into, but let's just say the tension between Native Americans and Whites is still very much alive. I would say that it is a much quieter distrust from Natives and much more vocalized my Whites, but then I never had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall in a some of the apartments on campus so I can't really accurately say that. I also have too many stories to put them all down here. I don't think that racism is anything to joke about. I've had a couple of people try to laugh off a few comments after I didn't laugh along with them and basically the conclusion I've come to are the following.
I don't care if you are in a room full of Whites, African Americans, Native Americans, or any other race and there is no other race in the room with you, it is never acceptable to joke about a person because of the color of their skin or their beliefs. It bothered me to no end when people would do this. I'm glad President Obama made a point about this in his inaugural address yesterday. Basically this kind of thinking needs to stop if our nation is going to evolve at all.
I should also say that I'm not painting everyone in Montana with the same brush. Not everyone is racist and I saw many cases that showed me that perhaps the idea of a "Great American Melting Pot" could one day come to be.
My point for telling you all this is that I decided to write about a character who grew up surrounded by these tensions. I've also come to the conclusion that my writing is always better when it's about something I'm passionate about, something I'm very interested in. I'm definitely a deep thinker, in fact I tend to over think things. I have two great-uncles who were in Vietnam and I took a class a long time ago on the Vietnam War. It's a part of America's history that fascinates me. As a story teller I love history, it's the greatest story ever told.
War is another subject that I don't feel I have the right to talk so much about. I can borrow from other people's experiences, but since I haven't ever been to war I don't want to talk about it except through a characters eyes. It's a bit different than talking about Alaska, for example, if I've never been there, or maybe it's not since I could still offend someone. Honestly, if Charlie's story ever comes out to my satisfaction I won't really care if it offends anyone, because it will be as accurate as I can make it, but it will definitely push the envelope on what is comforting for many people. It would only offend if you didn't agree with how some view points are portrayed, but it would always be the truth. I don't mind writing about touchy subjects as long as I know what I'm talking about and can inform the reader, but I have to be careful there.
Charlie has been giving me a lot of trouble though. He has a voice and a presence in my head. He was basically shouting at me that, "no one would want to read about Ned so why was I wasting my time.?" Every time I've tried to start his story, however, it comes out looking like a child wrote it, okay maybe it isn't that bad, but it is not to the same calibre as my other work. I am my harshest critic and I nit pick my work to death. A lot of my best stuff I'll never share on here, because when it's good, it's very good, and it's like sharing a part of my soul. I have a hard time doing that. I've tried moving on to other stories for a time, but just can't do it. I don't think it's writer's block, because I can still write it's just that none of it's any good. Any suggestions to get started?