A New Year
During my time as a newspaper reporter and editor, and all those years as an editorial writer or columnist, I’m sure I wrote a New Year’s Resolutions column likely 15 times. NO MORE. Most people make ’em and break ’em in the first day, so although it’s a good idea for those that have the follow through, don’t bother, unless you have determination and then really, you don’t need a resolution to do it. Like Nike says, Just Do It.
For the longest time, years really, my inner Resolution was to get published. I have been writing fiction (or at least I seemed to) for years, starting with my first short stories based on sword-and-sorcery fantasy adventures that I had participated in while playing Dungeons and Dragons in my teens and early 20s. They were raw, my grammar was bad, but my strengths were the dialogue between characters. Spoiler alert, I still play D&D with my friends, and I’m currently 44. I continued to write short stories and eventually three full length unpublished manuscripts. The first one, The Halfling’s Redemption, was a learning experience. It’s probably not worth even digging up, but it was fun.
The second, The Ghost Dance, was speculative fiction manuscript about a young Native girl learning a bit about her heritage while trying to right a historical wrong. It was pretty good, I thought. I had some pretty good feedback, but my inner voice of telling me I’m not good enough was enough to basically shelf it the minute I got rejected a few times. It was too Young Adult some said. It wasn’t Young Adult enough others said. Apparently, you can’t have a teenage heroine in an adult novel. It’s just not normal. So, it sits. It will get looked at again. It was the 125th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre on Dec. 29, 2015, and a friend of mine, Steve Bonspeil wrote a great Facebook post about the Ghost Dance and the Wounded Knee Massacre. It brought me back to how important this was to me. Reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee changed my entire perspective on how I viewed First Nations people. It’s an amazing read and worth picking up. In fact, in 2007, Dean Martineau and I visited Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It was very interesting. I stood at the memorial, which is unlike the Little Bighorn Memorial (which I visited the year before), no interpretive centre, no crew of groundskeepers or State employees maintain it. It was an old monument in a slightly unkempt graveyard on the top of a lonely hill in the midst of one of the poorest reservations and the poorest counties in the entire United States. At the bottom of the hill, there was a small arbour was set up to shield a few Natives from the sun who were sitting there, selling some handmade wares. Dean and I spoke to them, bought a few things and listened to their stories. It was pretty amazing. It was also incredibly sad and moving.
On a lighter note, my third manuscript was a serial killer crime adventure with some supernatural twists called The Chimera. It was fun to write, and I think it’s probably the closest of the three that could be commercial. It is a story of a down-on-his-luck cop that let the biggest case of his life slip through his fingers, the serial killer, The Chimera. Of course, his substance abuse problems aside, the main character cannot shake the guilt of not being able to stop this madman who seems to like to eat portions of the brains of his victims, he also is dealing with serious PTSD from being captured and tortured by The Chimera. Possibly the worst part for Hutch is that The Chimera eventually let him go. He wasn’t “worthy” of being killed or eaten. He feels he should have died, and not have to live with the guilt and the pain. Through a series of flashbacks and waking visions, Hutch starts to try and find his way to finding out who The Chimera is, since he’s come back to town and is killing again, although the MO is the same, the victimology is all different. What can this all mean?
Without doing journalism and writing a couple thousand words almost every day, I realize that I miss the written word, and now with a bit more brainspace and as my friend and co-author of 13 Ways to Kill Your Community Doug Griffiths pointed out, without the Tyranny of the Urgent, I have the mental capacity and thinkin’ time to perhaps start to write again. And make more art.
So, without this being a resolution for me, my resolution is to write more and move forward with my fiction writing career and try and further along my artwork. Perhaps I’ll start a red bubble account…
Happy New Year!