Friday, February 24, 2012

My Work in Progress

I'm having a hard time deciding how to move forward on my novel, so I've gotten quite good at ignoring it.

In November, I challenged a friend to do NaNoWriMo because she is fantastically imaginative and had been spinning her wheels. When she took me up on the challenge, I felt obligated to join her. (I wrote a little about it here .) I finished the month with a horribly messy draft of a story I could really, really love. I haven't picked it up since then, until this month, because there are some really important questions I have to think through before I can make progress on it. These questions have to do with the fact that I am Mormon. You see, my book is about some orthodox Christian girls from a commune who are allowed to attend public high school in the city, and the cultural clashes they (and their fellow classmates) experience as a result. Since I didn't want to write about any particular sect or organization, I just made one up. But the problem is that I am worried—handicapped, even—about what people will try to read into my words about my feelings about religion. If I make the men in this little commune have more authority than women, will it look as if I'm commenting on the Priesthood in my own religious culture? If I make men and women share authority, will it look like I am criticizing how things are done in the LDS church?

I'm having a really hard time with this. The thing is, I don't want to comment on the LDS church at all—but I do want to help people experience what it's like to be inside a culture that looks oppressive on the outside but that can feel very beautiful on the inside. I want both the people in the community AND the people outside it, who are puzzled about it, to be sympathetic characters. I want to show how both insiders and outsiders have good points, and a place where they can come together in mutual respect. I think I can do all of this, but I am afraid of people who might look for greater ulterior motives.

I've got to make a decision and move forward. Because this is a story I could care about, I can't leave it half-baked like this. But it's like dragging my feet through mud:  I . . . just . . . can't . . . seem . . . to . . . make . . . myself . . . commit . . .

And there are so many good books to read! And fun things to do! And naps to take!

I need a writing retreat.


Christopher Bigelow said...

Whoa, dude, I think you're being way too cautious. People will read into it whatever they want; you can't control that. As long as you maintain your own internal integrity, everyone else can go . . . well, you get my drift. Seriously, just do it.

Th. said...


I agree. Go forward. You won't know what the finished thing is until it is finished.

Kate said...

Just write---and see what happens!


Jennifer B. said...

Just go for it! (And if you're still worried about it when you're done, could you publish using a pen name?)