There was a time in my not-too-distant past when I believed that I was going to write and publish novels. I have been writing stories down since I was in sixth grade and it is something I have always enjoyed doing. During junior high and high school I had a reputation among my friends as a writer. I wrote songs, poems, and short stories. Most of the stuff I wrote deliberately ripped off either Stephen King or the slasher movies I used to love. With few exceptions, they were short, simple, crude, and to the point. By the time I graduated I had written enough that I seriously thought I might actually publish something. I continued to start different projects but I never finished a single thing.
About ten years ago I discovered National Novel Writing Month. The concept is simple: you write a 50,000 word novel (which is a short one) in thirty days. There is no prize other than the satisfaction of completing a novel in one month. I signed up and have made an attempt every November since. I have only finished once and that was last year. I do think that I wrote some interesting stuff in all of my attempts and not all of them failed due to a lack of effort. I have kept each attempt and periodically I pull them out and think about whether or not I want to try and finish them. I did start rewriting and editing last year’s attempt but I have yet to get it to a place where it is ready for public consumption.
The reason I bring all this up is because I have an idea for a new story. It isn’t an original idea but it is something I would like to explore. It’s basically a re-telling of the parable of the prodigal son. My idea is to have it set in the early 1990s and make a good portion of it autobiographical. One of the reasons I have been writing these long posts about my past is that I have been thinking a lot about certain periods of my life. I think that a lot of people my age have similar experiences and can relate. I know many people who grew up in church and then grew disillusioned and walked away. Some of them came back and some of them decided it wasn’t something worth coming back to.
I really do think it would be an interesting topic to tackle in a fictional setting. I will be honest, there is only so much of my personal life that I am going to share. I am pretty transparent and share a lot (maybe too much) but there are some things that I just won’t put out there in public. If I address these issues in a piece of fiction then I can conceal some of the things I would like to deal with without incriminating myself or others. I can also avoid putting too much personal information out there and damaging relationships or losing the trust of others. Let’s be honest, there are some things that you don’t want to know the preacher did, even if he was young and foolish at the time. There are some things you don’t NEED to know the preacher did.
So, there is my big idea. I have already gotten an idea for the direction I want to go in. It’s not going to be an exact re-telling of the biblical story but it will take the same tone and have the same message. I know that there is nothing original about this but I relate to that story on a personal level because so much of my own life mirrors it. I think most people can see themselves in it, even if just a little. It speaks to people because it reminds us that we all need grace.