The Birth of a Story

Each writer is different, and each writer finds his/her own way to come up with a story. For me the process is not at all mechanical or subject to a formula. And it changes a little with each new story. 

I only discovered what I wanted to write when I realized I had some things I wanted to say, and express, through fiction.  I’ve always loved writing, but unlike some others, I didn’t want to write until I had something I believed in to put down.  And then I discovered that my fiction would only work and  would only live in the reader’s mind when I wrote about something I cared about – or had an intense interest in. 

But fiction is tricky… a story really needs to have its own integrity, and value just as a story. It can’t just be a transparent vehicle for some political or social message to ride on.  A story needs to grip the reader and take them on a journey in which they do not know what is around the next corner – but really want to find out.  Story – STORY – is sacred.  It’s how the First Peoples passed on the events of their lives and generations.  And today, it’s how I create a world and get you to come into it.  And for all the eons we’ve been around as humanity, stories have been important to us. 

So, as I describe on my bio page, as a kid I loved to explore the hills and canyons surrounding the San Fernando Valley. I actually had a very strong desire to discover things different from my ordinary everyday surroundings.  And, having found a few Native American artifacts virtually in my own back yard, I wondered – could these be real, are they really what they appear to be?  As I got older and was able to drive myself around to explore the hills even further, I started to sense another presence in the open fields and places off the beaten track that the ever-spreading development hadn’t yet covered over.  And this feeling, this ephemeral sense of something, would periodically haunt me.  It was a deep feeling that there was something here that needed saying or writing about. 

A couple of decades and many interesting experiences passed.  From the late 70’s through the mid-80’s, I had had a series of about 7-8 very unusual dreams, which appeared to be lessons – some simple and some profound, some momentary and others longer – usually consisting of a spiritual or philosophical lesson presented as a living, 3D, color, interactive experience. Near the end of these dream experiences, and sometimes after I awoke, I had to discover the moral or the point, if it wasn’t obvious.  During the dreams, I always felt as if someone was communicating to me very deliberately. 

In one of these dreams, I was following an older Native American on horseback through a steep canyon.  Something happened, and our experience together taught me a profound lesson in a very beautiful way.  I awoke very moved by it. I immediately thought about putting it in a story. But I didn’t – for a long time.  

By the mid-90’s I was thinking of stories and ideas for stories a lot. My mind was working on ideas even when I wasn’t at a desk or computer. And in this frame of mind I had another dream, and when I awoke I was very excited, and knew I wanted to create a story out of what I had dreamed about, because it was true to what I cared about in many ways, and it could be set in the hills and oak woodlands of the western San Fernando Valley – the Tongva’s home territory for thousands of years before we got there.  And I realized also that I could finally incorporate what I had learned in my dream of six or eight years before, when I “rode” the dream landscape with a Siksika companion and teacher. 

So that was how and when this story was born – a bit unusual, and a bit ephemeral in nature – which is appropriate, I think.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear your comments and your own experiences.

Spirituality – the Essence of Mystery or Something We Can Know and Experience?

I’d like to begin to tackle what may be considered an almost unimaginably wide subject, and one which is rife with countless different opinions.  The subject is spirituality (in the broad sense, not just as a reference to one religion).  Spirituality, the Great Mystery to so many for so very long.

First of all, I’m not going to pretend that this question can be answered in one short article!  I’m also not going to say that it can be answered to everyone’s satisfaction, or at all, for some people – I don’t think it can.  But I think we can get closer to some pieces of the truth than you might think for such an awe-inspiring and sweeping subject.  While I am not an academician or theologian or other classically educated creature, I do know something about this subject.  If I’m not exactly a “street” philosopher, I could be considered a “desktop” philosopher.  I’ve learned a lot over the years but I do not, repeat, do NOT write as any kind of scholar or ivory tower expert.

The reason I’m interested in writing about spirituality is because in my own experience, the subject is fascinating, contains much food for thought and is outright enlightening.  I’m not very much interested in theory.  I’m mainly interested in helping people discover more about themselves, open their minds to another view if they have never considered these ideas before, and perhaps inspire them to do more investigation themselves.  

This article is also based on one of my very firm beliefs: that spirituality NEED NOT and SHOULD NOT BE MADE into an esoteric, difficult subject to understand.  The knowledge IS “out there” and the great mystery can be dissected into small bits of simple  knowledge.  Stay tuned for my next article in this series!

Gentling Wild Mustangs – Unique Spiritual Help for Native American Youth

Incredible!  I just learned about a unique Mustang Gentling program sponsored by Red Horse Nation, a 501(c)(3) horse program of Lifesavers, Inc., a mustang rescue ranch located in Lancaster, California.  

Native American youth, many from urban areas, have the opportunity to go to the desert, to a Mustang ranch, and learn how to gentle and interact safely with wild mustangs.  Not only do they get in touch with a vital part of their heritage, the horse culture, they learn to take responsibility for and have a relationship with these beautiful wild animals in this 6-week program.

You can read more about this program and the experience of one youth in his own words in an interesting article by Suzi West in the “Spirit of the West” column, here: 

Spirit of the West Article on Wild Mustang Gentling Program

Red Horse Nation also posts on their home page the principles it was founded upon.  I was delighted to see there a listing of “Native American Principles” – a profound list of precepts to follow, in the Native American way, to live a happier and more fulfilled life of balance between the body, mind and spirit.  This list will have the most relevance to Native Americans, but any person can benefit from reading and following these principles, as well as come to better understand the American Indian way.  Here is the link to the website of Red Horse Nation:

Red Horse Nation website