What is important is the story. Because when we are all dust and teeth and kicked-up bits of skin - when we're dancing with our own skeletons - our words might be all that's left of us.
...what life had taught me is that where we come from is a point -- not the starting point, not the defining point -- just a point. It's where we are that really counts.
I don't know if it's just my age or the climate or the high altitude or some of those old-cowboy values rubbing off on me, but I've grown slightly mellower living in Wyoming. I think if you ride into the West on a high horse, you pretty soon end up in a pile of manure.
Yes, as an oppressed people, American Indians have this epic burden, but first and foremost, they're human: sometimes a mess, sometimes funny or sad, at times very wise, and other times not wise at all - a lot like me.
In southern and central Africa, tragedy roared at us, and we roared back. We shared dramas publicly, bled them on the corridors of hospitals, laid our corpses on the beds of neighbors, held our sorrows up in full light. We were volume ten about our madness and disorder, even if we were also resilient and enduring and tough.
In Africa, we filled up all available time busily doing not much, and then we wasted the rest.
In the West, it was believed that attitude and ambition saved you. In Africa, we had learned that no one was immune to capricious tragedy.
It's probably cliche to say this, but in my experience, people are far more alike than they are dissimilar.
The most basic human impulse is toward entropy and laziness. The less we have to do to grow spiritually, the more likely we are to do it.
I think that being raised the way I was, where everything was so uncompromising, where, you know, we're prepared to fight to the death for the soil that you believed belonged to you - that kind of extreme engagement is very difficult to flush out of your system - or your belief system, anyway.
Until I read Anne Frank's diary, I had found books a literal escape from what could be the harsh reality around me. After I read the diary, I had a fresh way of viewing the both literature and the world. From then on, I found I was impatient with books that were not honest or that were trivial and frivolous.
I remember Karoi as a very hot, flat place, but in reality, it is all hills. We just lived next to an airstrip - the only flat piece of land around. That was my world as a three-year-old and sums up the indelible power of memory to a young child.
It seems very clear to me that we, in the West, cannot afford to continue assuming propriety over the world's resources in a careless, greedy way without paying for it - not only with the lives of our loved ones, but also with our souls.
For a memoir to really succeed, the author has to do such hard work before they come to the page. They have to do a brutal self-examination of everything they believe to be true.
I'm a working writer; this is my job. So it matters to me that it's good. I sweat over every word. I don't just vomit this stuff up. It's agony. The only thing that comes close is childbirth, except it's like being in labor for eighteen months.
In retrospect, I have come to recognise just how astounding my mother was during our childhood. She kept a woodwork shop and made beautiful furniture, as well as raising the pair of us in a society dominated by men. There really is nothing like war to reveal the power of patriarchy, but she always retained her independence.
In ways I don't entirely have the words for, an experience, thought or a lesson isn't real for me until I've written down.