Rebuilt Identity: In Progress

I’ve been reading this book by Chris Abani. Abani is a Nigerian-American writer. His mother was very English. But His father, Nigerian, so where is the American in him? Well–he lives in the United States. And he has done for years. He is American now.

The book I’m reading is called The Secret History of Las Vegas. It’s brilliantly written, though one of the creepier books I’ve ever picked up. It’s a novel about a man who does studies on psychopathy. A scary topic, to say the least.

Chris Abani has a TED Talk he did some years ago. 2008, actually. It is about humanity. But it’s also about how Africa is constantly in a state of rebuilding itself and it’s identity. in this TED Talk for instance, he explained that, until the genocide in Rwanda, the word for rape and marriage were actually the same. There may have been a difference in the context the word was used that changed it’s meaning, but this reflects a culture that accepted rape on a scale not seen for many hundred years in the western world. However, after the genocide, a word was created for this act in Rwanda. And this thing was rebuilt not as marriage, but as a crime and atrocity, and it was done so by women.

Abani speaks of apartheid a lot. And to think partied only ended in 1991, and even then, all the laws were only abolished in 1994. And it hasn’t been so long. What identity does South Africa have? What must it rebuild for it’s citizens and those who call it home. Apartheid was an era that rivals the monstrosities of the Third Reich, yet most people ignore it, or do not know about it. It feels like ancient history for many.

But in South Africa, in Africa at large, the repercussions of apartheid are still being felt. It is still a dangerous country, a dangerous continent, rife with civil unrest.

Abani brings these issues to his novels. He reminds readers that the struggles of Africa are the same struggles of the western and eastern worlds. They are human rights. They are constantly being rebuilt.

I Take Myself Too Seriously

I’ve sometimes thought that I take myself too seriously as a writer. Then I realize I definitely do. When did writing become a chore, a line on my “to-do” list. When did it stop being my exploration into the human nature we all exhibit and start being the long hard slog of artistic endeavor? I’ll tell you when.

Revision.

Of course, revision isn’t typically thought of as a “when” but let me assure you it is. Revision is time that spans months and even years. And it’s not fun. Not for me anyway. For me it’s something else to check off. So that’s when writing stopped being fun. This isn’t to say it’s not fulfilling, or course.

But now, with my thesis approved and graduation nearly innevitable, writing can be fun again. I have so many ideas for stories I just haven’t had time for, as well as some revisions I can do–if I so feel like getting something up to publication standards.

But back to the fact that I take myself too seriously. I do. And one way I do this is by saving all my work for some unknowable publication in the far distant future instead of writing for writing’s sake. I think it’s part of a writer’s evolution to want readers, but why must I publish through the traditional channels to feel accomplished? Why not publish it online. Why not put work out there, into the ether and see what comes back. I believe (though I have no way to know) that I’m an above average writer of fiction (ego ego ego)–so why can’t I have an online following? I mean, that’s what this here blog is for, and it doesn’t get a thousand views each day, but it gets some and that’s enough for me.

I know you know my novella The Night Sputnik Flew is being serialized up on Jukepop, but now I’ve decided to put a work in progress up there as well. It’s called MODED, and it’s a science-fantasy-cyberpunk thriller. I call it science fantasy because it’s more fantastical than it is scientific, but there is a lot of unexplained technology in it which could make it fall into the science fiction realm.

With this piece I’m just aiming to please myself. I’m not writing for a deeper purpose. I’m writing characters I think are exciting and intersting and putting them through a ringer of a plot that I think is exciting and interesting. Maybe the piece raises questions about technology, but it’s much more of an adventure piece than it is a thought piece, like much sci-fi is.

check me out on Jukepop if you have a chance: Click here

I’m Working On Something Bigger For You

I’ve been working on a longer post for you. It’s been a slog. A lot of references and quotes that need to be verified. Sometimes it makes me think this is all too much to work on. But I think the issue is an important one. It is creative in nature as most essays are, but not a piece of fiction at all.

I implore you to hang tight. Just stick with me, as I give you something more substantive than a free write like this.

In research of this longer post, I’m combing through nearly 10 hours of film. The film Shoah, took nearly 10 years to make, and finally hit the screens in 1985. It’s the only documentary that I know if about the Holocaust that doesn’t use any back footage. It only relies on interviews of survivors, perpetrators, and silent commiserators. It’s a chilling film. Filled with long silent shots of the Polish landscape where truly horrific things took place.

I don’t know. After so much research I may want to get this piece published in a mag. Though I think its relevance will degrade over time–though one can never be sure about these things.

Writing about the Third Reich is so over done, and Nazi and Hitler comparisons are, by in large, hot air and rhetoric for one side of politics or the other. That’s why taking on such a piece is difficult. You must approach it from an angle that hasn’t been explored. I think I am, but I’m unsure. So my blog still seems like the most likely place for this piece to call home.

I’m very busy, but think I will have this piece finished in the next few days–I hope. I need to pick up a book that will lend me quotes, but it is a difficult book to find. I think I have a copy at my dads.

This is the most ill conceived freewrite I have ever done, but what can I say? I’m frantic for time. Always searching my backpack for lost minutes, hours, days. I suppose that’s what prisoners must feel like–where did all that time go–when they finally get their freedom. I don’t know if that ever changes for those who spend a chunk of their lives in captivity.