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The year has been hard. I know there are people who are feeling isolated and trying to take care of themselves and work or learn or survive. If you need help, I hope you can get it. I wish you time to mourn all you have lost. You matter. No one is disposable.
I have reassessed my priorities a lot in the last several years. One thing that has become even more clear during isolation is that I was spending way too much time on social media-Twitter, mostly. This week I turned Screen Time on on my phone in order to limit myself to one hour for all social media and no more than two hours a day of e-mail. (I don’t think I normally do nearly that much e-mail, but better safe than saturated). Whittling the social media allowance down to thirty minutes next, because, really, I want to be writing books and stories more than I tweet.
During the pandemic my kids dubbed me a Swifty because after watching Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, I I fell in love with Taylor Swift’s new albums, Folklore and Evermore. There was so much in in the documentary that resonated with me and the things I have been thinking about regarding an Indigenous future. Prior to Covid, life was more hectic than I would have liked, disconnected from my culture and community, and friends. It was exhausting to try to do everything (work, parent) and write, as well. Too many things in my life were mere distractions. Now if it’s not my culture, writing and reading, being active, or time with my kids or good friends, it’s not a priority.
I’m currently splitting time between the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and Fort Worth, Texas. I just finished a semester of teaching Comp. 1 and taking a class in Speculative Fiction and Pedagogy. Next semester, I’ll be teaching Comp. 2 and taking classes in both Native and Southern Literature. In between all the things I’ll be researching and writing.
It was a big year for some of the Indigenous writers I love. I hyperlinked the following titles to purchase through Red Planet Books and Comics. Lipan Apache author Darcie Little Badger’s Elatsoe is killing it (my daughter and I both loved it), as is Blackfeet writer Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians. And it was very cool to be introduced to the work of fellow Cherokee Nation Citizen Kelli Jo Ford via her wonderful book Crooked Hallelujah. It was a big year for me. Mary and the Trail of Tears came out and got a little attention in February and then Covid hit. Towards the end of the year it wound up on some best of the year booklists I love and that was awesome. I had the support and kindness of lots of Indigenous writers, especially, Traci Sorell and Cynthia Leitich Smith. Somehow they had time to help me, even while doing their own amazing stuff. Check them out.
Some people like to do resolutions. I’m just trying to plan my days better and make time for the activities that are important to me: staying active, being with my friends and family, learning Cherokee, and reading and writing stories. I realized that every moment I am making a choice to either do those things or do something that’s not a priority. 2020 taught me to choose more carefully. Stay well. Tell the truth. Defend those who need it. Question everything.
In creative writing classes you will often hear the phrase, “Show, don’t tell.” I’m trying to apply a bit of that to my life. If you love someone or love doing something, maybe both show and tell.
Cherokee New Year was actually in October, but I’m happy to celebrate another beginning. I wish you and me a better year.
ulihelisdi itse adetiyisgvi
ᎤᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎢᏤ ᎠᏕᏘᏱᏍᎬᎢ
Happy New Year!