I Wonder How Many Posts Have the Word ‘Anxiety’ in the Title?

I am feeling a little anxious about my trip to Illinois. That’s a lot of unmitigated time with my parents. But I’m also really excited. I’m fretting about the book, some, as seems to be my constant state when writing. I’m worried that it’s unfair to churches and ministers and that Methodists, especially, those who have brought me up will feel hurt or betrayed. Not because you can point to anyone and say “Oh, that’s really Joe Smith! I recognize him!” I tried to be very, very careful about not giving specific characters specific traits of people I know, especially because Hannah experiences them as a kind of undulating, undifferentiated mass of people she can’t be a part of.

But I still worry.

And then I think, well, it’s a story about ministers’ kids, specifically a particular Methodist minister’s kid. Let someone else write a book in which the congregations are awesome and the pastor’s family sucks, or in which the pastor is awesome, but his family and church suck.

I don’t know. I’m still not sure it’s very good. I’m worried there are holes I just can’t see. I’m worried it doesn’t make any sense. I’m worried no one will want to publish it or read it.

But I’m still having a shit-ton of fun writing it. When I read it, I feel like, “Yeah, I wish there’d be a strange little book about ministers’ kids like this before.”

And the truth is that I’m not exactly sure what I’m getting at, what I want people to take away from it, so who can say it’s not happening?

I guess I’m getting nervous about asking folks to read it and closer to the time when I’ll want them to.

8 thoughts on “I Wonder How Many Posts Have the Word ‘Anxiety’ in the Title?

  1. experiences them as a kind of undulating, undifferentiated mass of people she can’t be a part of.


    So creepy. That’s almost exactly how T describes his father’s congregations.

  2. Isn’t that how everyone (or at least every child and adolescent) with a weird* family experiences the people around her/him who don’t share that weirdness?

    *I’m using “weird” here in the sense of “having some characteristic or behavior that most members of the community don’t share, which results in a different world-view than that shared by most members of the community”

  3. NM, I think it probably is, to a degree. As a weird person myself I’ve always felt that.

    But I think in a Christian community there’s a different and more insidious scrim of otherness that Preacher’s Kids feel.

    You are isolated from others because your father has heard God’s Call. Therefore the isolation you feel is because of God. You dare not question it without questioning God. You also dare not question your parent (which is a natural part of growing up) because your parent is a Servant Of God.

    You are God’s example.

    So basically while everyone around you is communicating that you are an outsider you are also denied the basic human developmental processes of gentle rebellion into maturity. Any rebellion reflects badly on your parent and thus on God.

    Not only are PKs weirdos, but they are also handicapped by the Divine. It’s a crippling way to be a child.

  4. Your posts about Watseka have shaken a few memories loose, being a former prisoner of Low Point (nee Danville).

    (In Watseka, next to the Auto Zone on E Walnut there’s a florists / greenhouse where I spent a lot of time as a kid. Used to be run by my uncle Tom Fay and it looks to be a still-going concern. FWIW.)

  5. Coble, I am bummed that all the Devil stuff in the book is a turn-off for you, because you so clearly articulate what I’m trying to get at in the novel, and other than that I don’t want you to read something that would make you uncomfortable, I’d love for you to read it.

    There’s a way in which being a minister’s kid is like being a supernatural being not only because your parent has a supernatural role but because you are The Example.

    That’s why Hannah is quick to accept that she’s turning into a flock of birds. Of course she’s different. Of course weird things should happen to her. She is set apart.

    And so her journey in the book ends up being a lot about how other ordinary people are also supernatural beings (maybe) and how there are other ministers’ kids out there she can know and be in community with.

    It’s kind of a clunky journey into understanding that she is not actually set apart from others, that she’s not special for reasons beyond her control.

  6. You know, I’m kinda wondering if all of us aren’t “weird” but feel our own otherness in ways not always readily perceivable everyone else, so while we’re looking out at the “undulating, undifferentiated mass of people,” each of them are looking back and seeing us as part of that mass, while they are apart from it.

  7. It’s NOT at all that the Devil stuff is a turn-off for me. I really am very eager to read the book.

    I’m just trying to find a way (and not succeeding) to articulate the weirdness that I always feel when the Devil is in any way pictured as a folk character. It comes up in a lot of my favourite songs and stories, so I’m not unfamiliar with it as a leitmotif. But it’s just one of the things I have to sort of nudge to a different part of my brain and move around a little.

    Normally when I read I can just move through the text, but the Devil-as-Participant is one of the times I have to mentally pause, adjust my paradigm to that of the story’s, and then move on.

    That’s what I was trying to explain earlier, and I guess it came out like I was saying I wanted to avoid the book.

    I don’t at all. But I wonder if there will be the same sort of gut reaction in other readers or if I’m alone in that.

  8. Ha, okay, good. I’ve been very worried that I’d alienate the exact kind of reader I’d think could most appreciate my book.

    I may, anyway, but at least I hope it won’t be right out of the gate. But I really wanted to get at how Hannah’s particular upbringing and her anger at God (or at least her idea of God) leaves her completely clueless and vulnerable to a lot of people and Forces with agendas of their own.

    Plus, I could really use someone who would know to look over the stuff about the ex-Amish woman and make sure it at least sounds slightly plausible and you’re the only person I know with the right knowledge-set.

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