So, the truth is that one should probably not write a story of the no-good, terrible, very-bad church and the ministers who served there while at the same time feeling a great deal of anxiety about the impending visit of one’s parents.
I have concerns. One of my concerns is that nothing happens in the story, that it is, instead, just a bunch of people sitting around telling each other the stories of themselves that have gotten them into the situations they’re in. What kind of novel is that?! I’m also concerned that it’s too much that the woman who is turning into a flock of birds is also a rape victim, but the Professor asked me how many women are in my book and I was like “a shit ton”–the gal who’s becoming a flock of birds, the other gal who can become a flock of birds, the two women who are married to the dog family, the Watseka wonder, and the preacher’s daughter whose body she uses, plus the gal who’s becoming a flock of birds’ mom and her two nieces. And then the Professor pointed out that that’s pretty much statistically on-target–that one of them would have been raped. And yep, that’s true.
Anyway, I’ve just gotten to the part where the girl who is possessed by the Watseka Wonder is recounting her brief time as a sleep preacher and how her parents didn’t tell her that she was preaching in her sleep nor did they get her medical help right away because her dad was plagiarizing her sermons. And I had this moment where I thought, “Oh no! That’s the real story here. I wrote all this, but the real story is about the kind of man who could be so desperate that he would steal from his daughter and keep her sick so that he could be successful at the job that provided for them all,” and I was frozen with fear that I was writing the wrong story.
But then I realized, in a story in which parents are allowing their daughter to suffer for their own well-being, who thinks the story of the person benefiting from this arrangement is the compelling story?
So, I think I’m a little freaked out, too, because part of telling this story is dragging up a lot of crap for me, which is probably not good crap to drag up just before my parents get here.
And I also think that it has to be a story full of women’s stories because the women in my book couldn’t really do much, just because of their societal situations. So, if they’re going to participate in the narrative, it has to be through telling, not doing. Though I feel like telling, not doing, goes against every rule of fiction writing I could invent.
I need to get into, too, the ways in which members of the congregation would feel free to tell you all kinds of shitty things about your dad and to interfere in how minister’s kids are being raised.
Anyway, I’m feeling weird about it. But I forge ahead, not knowing what the hell I am doing.