The Importance of POV

Above: Nat Love in his younger days (source); Nat Love all cleaned up with his family (source)

I just read an interesting interview on the website of the magazine Cowboys & Indians, with the author of a new book coming out about George Armstrong Custer. Anyone who has ever read my Red Plains work probably has a good hunch about how I feel about the man, but that’s not really what I’m here to talk about. I am here to discuss point of view.

How many books, movies, and articles have been published about Custer and from Custer’s perspective? How many more do we need? It’s so refreshing when we do get an account from the Native American/Latino/black/Asian point of view. Why don’t we see that more often?

It’s not that I’m against learning more about someone and their time, regardless of their race, of course. But I am against having such a well-trod subject continue to be in the limelight. The American West was/is a very diverse place, and all the groups of people listed above played a great role in its story. But if the mainstream public is only hearing one side of things, that’s a problem. When the only representations of Native Americans in mainstream media is yet another story about white settlers destroying their way of life, when women are consistently portrayed as weak/saloon girls/prostitutes, when the only Latinos portrayed are bandits, that’s a problem. And then we wonder why so many folks feel under-represented and not heard, and why so many people think westerns are “not for them.”

Even in recent western films, as great as it is to have new, original westerns released in the mainstream, it’s typically told from the white man’s perspective. I really enjoyed The Revenant, particularly because it’s based on a brutal true story (and as I’ve said regarding my Red Plains research, the truth is often much stranger and more entertaining than anything made up!). But wouldn’t it be great to have a major (and well made) film released that is told from a different POV? A woman’s, or an ethnic group other than white?

I continue working on the first Red Plains novel, and there are loads of stories to be told in this world. And you can trust that those stories will continue to be told from all the characters’ perspectives, regardless of sex or race.

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An Important Update

It’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen my occasional posts that I was working on a novel for NaNoWriMo, or letting you know I had a new boxing article published on Boxing.com. But for my fictional work, there’s been a lot of radio silence, and I’m writing this post to explain why.

I’ve had ongoing health issues for the past several years. For longer than I care to admit, approximately 12-15 years, I had increasing levels of pain and fatigue that began to drain on my creative energy on top of everything else. About two and a half years ago, I finally got what I thought was the medical help I needed from a rheumatologist who had a hunch that I had ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis. I was treated with potent, immunosuppressive drugs for nearly two years but continued to decline as my energy, pain, and brain fog all got worse. This made it extremely difficult if not impossible to be creative, because it took pretty much all I had to be some semblance of a functioning and active human being.

Eventually I switched to a different rheumatologist, hoping to find some help, and sought out second opinions from two others. They all agreed and I continued on the same course without getting better.

Finally, nearly a year ago, I was fed up. I went to see a naturopath, who discovered that I actually had Epstein-Barr virus and Lyme disease. I’m still being treated for those infections, and am finally on the road to recovery. I’ve been seeing a lot of improvement over the past several months, and it’s an understatement when I say it’s a relief to me and those closest to me.

I won’t go into too much detail here, but I have plans to go into my journey in a much more in-depth way soon. For right now, though, I wanted to let fans of Red Plains and my other writing know that I am here, and I’m back. I feel I’m finally at the point where I can regularly write and be creative again. There are still not-so-good days as I work toward recovery, but feeling creative again–even if it’s not every single day–makes me so grateful. It’s a major part of who I am, and having lost that for the past few years was devastating.

Thank you for hanging in there, and for your support. It means a lot.

And please, if you know anyone who is not well and can’t figure out exactly what is wrong, please suggest they visit a good naturopath! I learned this the hard way.

 

Just write.

I see so many books, articles, blog posts, tweets, you name it, all geared towards helping us be better writers. When I first started writing, I read everything in this department that I could. I thought, justifiably, that there are a lot of other people in the world who have been writing longer than I have and must have some useful information for me that will help me grow.

Sometimes that’s true. But it’s more common that it’s complete garbage–an advertisement for writing more than anything of substance. And as time went on, and I began to skim these things rather than read them, I came to realize that many of these people are not writers. They are hobbyists or people who want to be writers. Not the same thing.

Now, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with that. But as someone who takes writing seriously, who knows that writing is more than something I do–but rather, it is me, and integral part of who I am and what I am here for–I have learned that for me personally, I read excellent works by writers I admire. And I write. And that’s it.

A lot of people like to talk at length about writing. In the end, talking about writing doesn’t get you anywhere.

There is no substitution for learning the craft by practicing it. Period.

Day 1 of NaNoWriMo

Day 1 is down! Word count so far: 1773. As is typical when I write, at first I wasn’t liking what I was putting down but I kept writing anyway, and next thing I knew I was liking some of what I wrote, and then more, and I hit my minimum number of words for today with still more story bursting at the seams. So I left the book in a place where it’ll be easy and fun to jump right in, whether it’s later today or tomorrow. (Probably later today.)

I toyed around with Scrivener for the first time today. A test drive. At first I thought it sounded very cool, but as I started writing in it I was distracted by the fact that I can’t use it across all my devices unless I export it out as a Word doc every time, so I went back to plain old Word and saving it in my SkyDrive. I sometimes think that we are all too easily wowed by shiny new things rather than just writing and not caring what pretty package we’re doing it within. But am I wrong? Any of you writers who use Scrivener who would never go back to Word alone?