I took the family to Council Grove, Kansas, this weekend, a place I jokingly referred to as "the dark heart of Kansas". Council Grove has its fair share of history--for several years it was the last stop heading southwest on the Santa Fe Trail. Last stop before Santa Fe, that is...
The Kanza people used to live around Council Grove, and our fair state takes its name from their tribe. In an act of cruel, bitter, irony, the last Kanza were forced out of Kansas to "Indian Territory" (now Oklahoma). In 1925, a section of riverbank gave way south of town, spilling forth the remains of an anonymous Kanza warrior and his horse (they were often buried with a favorite mount for the "next world"). Local citizens erected the thirty-five-foot high monument seen in the picture, entombing the warrior and his burial paraphernalia in the base of the structure. The Kaw Nation, a self-governing native tribe, now owns the land around the monument. They've constructed the Kanza Heritage Trail through Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park, a beautiful, 158 acre plot of the Flint Hills.
Being in the presence of such history stirs thoughts of one's own mortality. What monument, if any, do I want to leave behind?
My wife has suggested writing is an "attempt to gain immortality". I hate to tell her how much of my work simply exists as electrons in the virtual ether. One big EMP* and WHAM! But maybe she's right. Maybe.
KV Taylor asked a great question on Saturday, and I'm paraphrasing here...
Would you keep writing if you knew you'd never be published again?
I commented I would keep writing, being a stubborn bastard, but only because I don't think I could believe nothing would be published again. Really, what's the point in trying to communicate (reader/writer relationship) without someone on the other end of the line? I'm not scribbling notes in a personal journal all those hours locked away in The Lavender Man Cave.
And then there's this: On Friday, I began posting The Borrowed Saints, a YA book which I wrote last year. I like the book. I love parts of it. But I won't query it; I'm not looking for a publisher. I'm giving it away, even if only one person reads it. (I hope at least one person reads it.)
Why give it away? Is it a gambit to find an agent/publisher/audience? (And Thanks, Mr. Fowler, for the question.)
Hell no. I'm not so brazen (or foolish) to think any of those things would happen.
I learned early on in this "writing game" I can only control so much. The universe will unfold as it will. See the revelation of the anonymous Kanza Warrior only after his people are shamefully forced from their homeland for proof. "We were here...we are here...we will always be here..." he seems to say. We can pretend to shore away for the future, our monument making, but all we really have is the now. The future belongs to the future.
And for now, I love to write and want to share my work.