“Write what you know.” Probably the most popular advice offered to beginning writers, or at least neck and neck with “Show; don’t tell.” Both are good advise, though I lean more toward show and tell–just to be safe. But what do I know?
I know dystopia. I grew up in close proximity to fanatic religion abounding in conspiracy theories. The priceless lesson from those theories and speculations was that things tend to stay the same. Attitudes, ideas, and opinions perpetuate themselves like bacteria. Disenfranchised people separate themselves from society. Subcultures ionize and polarize themselves, limit their scope of vision only to what supports what they already think.
I know the Bible. I trust it and I believe what it says despite the questionable characteristics of most of the people who have tried to explain it to me. Certain ideas resonate inside me and I believe them, take them to be my truths–God’s ability to create, to redeem, and to inspire–cant explain it; I just go with it. Beyond the basics, though, is a wonderful otherworld of possibilities. Things from the Bible, things like if we don’t say something the rocks will, Baalam’s talking donkey, the dry bones and Ezekiel’s vision of the throne, the twenty-one day delay of the messenger coming to Daniel, these are little peeks behind a door behind which lies different dimensions. I don’t merely fantasize about these things; I believe that they can be and are!
“Speculative” is the popular term for my favorite flavor of fiction, whether I’m reading or writing. It’s a good label. It means I speculate about alternatives to the reality around me. It means my writing questions the world and is questionable. I’m all for all of that. But I prefer the designation of “weird”.
Lots of people blame religion for lots of our problems. But what if religion in a benign and wonderful thing until a power hungry politian harnesses it for his own goals or some guy with daddy issues twists it into the opposite of what it was intended for?
I believe that religion is a wonderful thing until a politician harnesses it.
I remember enough about Nixon to be awed and impressed as I’ve watched his party become the party of morals and values. I remember Carter better, the Democrat with the Bible. Interesting how things have turned around in such a short time. I can imagine a breakfast on November 3, 1976—Reagan, Robertson, Falwell, the sun shining straight through the room because it’s still so low, and they’ve already designed the machine that will protect us from Judy Blume and the gays.
Watching all this has offered some interesting insights into the McCarthy era.
Conflict drives plot, but irony is its destination. Irony is the backbone of story. If nothing unexpected is going to happen, then no story will either.