Thursday, 1 January 2015


It's been mooted before on here and suggested to me: Why not write a book that's a "Best Of" this blog?  Not fiction.  Not the personal stuff.  The thinking.
      I've toyed with that, and learned some things.
      Books are different.
     For one thing, they're meant to be read as one thing, and there's meant to be "flow" throughout.  They shouldn't repeat themselves.  They shouldn't say things they've already said adequately. They shouldn't feel repetitive.  They shouldn't be redundant. They shouldn't say things over and over.
      Blog aren't like that.
     They're supposed to be read, each post in isolation, in no particular order.  If you share a post with someone who's not read anything else, it should still make perfect sense and not require the reader to have read anything else.  Blog posts are supposed to be standalone. In order for that to work, they may require one to re-establish something that shows up elsewhere in other posts.
     For that reason, just cutting and pasting the best (theological, not personal) blog posts (something I tried, in order to see what that gave me) results in something that repeats itself way too much. And never seems to arrive anywhere.  Something I have been accused of, personally, as a Christian and human being. I am not my blog, but for many, my blog is the only way they know me.  And if my Internet presence/persona is taken as "the real me"?  Heaven help me.
    In fact, a Christian woman I know told me that the question of "So, what do YOU do, as a Christian?" or "How would you characterize your faith" or "Where is YOUR walk with the Lord?" is still an open one.  I have mainly written stuff which deconstructs the past, rather than talking about my present or future.  How 90s of me.
     Luckily, being a high school English teacher, I know that threes are magic, and that stories normally have three main parts: 

1. setup, 
2. first attempts and added complications, 
3. resolution.  

And I know that, even if I'm not writing a fictional story, that this structure is how we package ideas up so people can take them in.  Now one problem I have, if I am writing about spiritual stuff, is that if all is going well, I have not arrived yet.  Because I am not done learning. And there is no final resolution, so long as I live and learn.
    But still, I cut and pasted a whole bunch of "good" blog entries from the past five or ten years, and had a look at what could be made of them all.  What I found was that the individual blog posts, instead of being sortable into those three acts, and copy and pastable into the appropriate "acts" of the book (setup, additional complication or resultion), usually each post tried to follow all three steps, with varying degrees of success.
     A few posts had the full deal, explaining what my roots are and the challenges seen in them, moving on to thoughts related to the process of working through that stuff, and then to some kind of "So I have arrived here" place.  Most were more messy, and started with the past, but then finished, leaving me still very much in the "muddling through it still" middle.  And some were just the past and what that was like, without necessarily explaining why it was bad in any great detail, or what would be better.
    But I've been messing with it, like a kid picking at a scab.  Doing a lot of changing verb tenses (the first two acts should mainly be in past tense (however the blog post was written originally).  I've been removing introductory bits that are no longer necessary, as the first act stuff has already been gone over beforehand.  And I'm writing a lot of "between" bits, and bits that add shape to it and try to make the bits call, one to another, as if the various bits "know" the other bits have already happened, or are about to happen still.  And almost I am persuaded to write a whole book and let people see it.  It's mainly an editing job now.
     I don't know if anyone would ever want to read such a thing.  In the past, I have told the story of my wrestling with my church culture in individual blog posts.  In cartoons and videos and fiction.  What I want to do now is write a book which focuses less on what happened to me, and more on our culture, as experienced by people like me, and what we eventually had to do to move past some of it, once we'd begun to have problems with some of it. 
    Obviously, it would still have a significant amount of subjectivity, coming from the fact that it's me who experienced it all, in that place and time, and who had the problems with it that I did.  But I want to broaden the scope of the thing as much as I can, anyway.
     I want to conclude things.  To talk about what we claimed, and where that went wrong.  To talk about intentions vs. execution.  To talk about human religious systems in general, and how Christians lose sight of grace and mercy, forgiveness and love, in favour of correction, control and judgement ("light").  How we read the bible and talked about it so much, but managed to lose all that good stuff.
    It's hard, in many odd ways. And I can't imagine anyone would read it.  But I think I'll do it anyway.