I have story that I want to tell. I think it’s an important story, and I think that a lot of people could relate to it. It started as a memoir, but has evolved due to the heavy influence of the youth fiction I’ve been reading lately. Specifically, Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky has lit me on fire for writing for young adults. I think I can weave the various elements of my memoir into a Christian Myth-based work that would probably be banned by Bible Belt school districts, but that’ll just make it more popular.
So, this “week’s” question is “What is one thought that has been getting the best of you lately? How has it been influencing your behavior?” The one thought is, “I’m not good enough to actually produce this.” It’s caused me to get frustrated before I get anywhere with my story and distract myself with things like phone games, Facebook, and Open Diary.
The significance of Mbalia’s book is that he tackles the specter of slavery in a way that doesn’t feel like a lecture or an attack on white people. Yes, I know that there are some white folks who will feel attacked because that’s just what they do, but a reasonable person will be really impressed with Mbalia’s approach.
I want to do a similar kind of story in which the bad guys, “the serpents,” are Christians who use their faith to abuse and manipulate. My main character will be named Jezebel Spirit Hayes, because her mother rebelled against her parents’ beliefs and got pregnant very young. Jezebel will go by Jesse, because her grandparents took custody of her when Jesse’s mother attempted suicide (because she couldn’t live up to their standards).
Jesse is starting high school in a public school. Up to now, she’ll have attended a very conservative Christian school and attended church several times per week with her grandparents. Her friends are kids her age who have also attended the Christian school and the church. In public school, she’ll realize that she’s never really known any of them, because they all wear masks to fit in to the neat little categories that have been assigned them by their controlling church.
I haven’t yet decided if I want the serpents and the masks to be literal, yet. If I did, it would be more of a fantasy novel. But it’s something I’m playing with.
I don’t want to make all Christians out to be bad guys. I honestly believe that the most judgmental Christians are the most fearful. They create standards that no human could live up to, and then they have to reassure themselves that they’re not horrible by pointing out the flaws of others. The leader who had the most negative influence on me, can also be given credit for saving me from the unimaginable, because he and his wife practically adopted me when my parents were in the midst of drug an alcohol abuse. Home was not safe, especially for me, because of the kinds of people that that lifestyle can bring around.
My experience was with fundamentalist Christianity, but I have spoken to ex-Mormons, Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses who have all believed that they were doomed… damned… for not conforming to the ridiculous list of criteria for their particular sect.
And now I’m out of words. I have bronchitis, and it wears me out. But this is what I’m currently struggling with. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you have your own stories of spiritual abuse or oppression and would like to share them with me for possible characters for my story, I would love to hear them.