Four years ago I was in the process of finalizing a version of ThunderBird Walking for self publication. I released it in November of 2013 as a sort of 50th birthday gift for myself. Today I looked over some parts of it thinking about creating a few internet memes for my Facebook writer page. Lots of thoughts and emotions connected to the journey of writing such a personal book hit me.
The main feeling I have about the book is that it kind of sucks. I had given up on it many times, but there seemed to be a negative spiral in my life that I felt might abate if I put out the book. I figured better things were headed my way if I just put a little trust in my writing. I can now say with confidence that the negative spiral didn’t go away, but for a few weeks after I moved to Tucson in 2014 it looked like rewards were coming my way…new friends and a new life. Didn’t last long because a skank spreading lies about me also entered my life and the sweeter connections I had made began to fade.
I have never talked about the book with anyone in any real way. Most people who read it fall silent. It seems that no one has picked up on the idea that the book is about a fictional person who isn’t a very good writer; his prose is rather purple at times, but he aspires to become better. Much of this prose I wrote in journals while hiking Grand Canyon under the somewhat conscious notion that flowery language helps a person overcome trauma from generational war memory—kind of a re-balancing act. I felt like the book showed a writer learning how to write, and that there is some good writing in there too, especially toward the end.
But everyone is silent and no one got any of that from the book…no one is in my tree or my corner.
There seems to have been some talking behind my back on it—and given I live in Tucson where gossip goes hand-in-hand with STDs, I’m not surprised. There’s a journal entry right near the beginning of the book that sexualizes Grand Canyon as a sort of woman in red or a mistress in the character’s life. It seems people either thought I wasn’t aware of how that comes across or thought that I was actually into Christian BDSM. It’s kind of funny, but then again a little scary how Americans are so poorly educated about writing and the arts…and sexuality, making assumptions and living by them as if they are the truth while never asking or verifying facts. There’s a lot of belittling of anyone who tries to make people think or care about the struggles of others.
Now I feel stuck in the deep hole of dirty Tucson. I remember thinking that if I published my book I ought get out of America. The turn this country has taken, not just at the top but right here at street level in our communities, is scary. There are no writers in a fascist oligarchy, and I feel like that whole part of my life has come to an end. I will always write, but mostly now it feels like a hobby, something I must keep to myself. I see too much in a world where everyone’s got something to hide.