Friday, February 16, 2007

Fiction as a Catalyst for Changing Oneself

My friend Stephen Carter wrote: "In all of my published essays the end is what came hardest. I've written at least 25 endings to every essay, trying to find that perfect position. And, it never fails. I find that I have to change myself in order to find that ending. David Mamet wrote that a writer must go through the journey with his main character and that he must come out of it changed. That's been very true with me."

This insight definitely gives me pause when it comes to my own recently published novel, Kindred Spirits. Could I have used the novel as a springboard for my own apparently unresolved repentance? Could I have actually used it as a catalyst for my OWN change?

My novel is quite autobiographical on some thematic levels, sort of a fictionalized return to the scene of some of my own crimes nearly twenty years ago. (That may be one reason why I wrote in a female POV--to psychically distance myself on some levels so I could more readily fictionalize personal themes on another.)

While I felt uncomfortable about my sins and went through the whole repentance process and didn't return to the sins, sometimes I wonder if my repentance was fully completed on a spiritual level. Basically, I don't think I ever achieved a sufficient degree of remorse and contrition. I didn't really blame myself for the sins. Deep down inside, I felt--and perhaps still feel--that the sins were somewhat inevitable, not really anything I could have realistically avoided, just a natural part of my mortal experience. I acknowledged the sins as wrong but didn't feel all that personally responsible or sorry. In
the novel, I give Eliza similar feelings.

So if I could have somehow revisited my own imperfect repentance through the novel and actually achieve a new level of grief and regret for sins, that would have been spiritually productive for me. Frankly, I can't imagine how that could have happened, but it's a nice idea. Instead, the novel is more a mirror of my own spiritual journey, which apparently isn't completed yet, thus leaving the novel with a particularly unfinished feeling for those further along in their spiritual journey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I read your entry with interest. thanks for sharing. Repentance is a difficult things sometimes. I sometimes have thought that I have not done it well. but I think this has to be balanced with trust. We have to trust that God will forgive us if we repent whether we repent well enough or not. I think then as we return to a guilt free (as much as possible) way of relating to God, His love for us will provide us greater insight. His love is greater than our weakness, including our inability to repent fully - it has to be or we are well and truly hopeless. the whole point of Jesus coming to earth is to help us. It was clear we couldn't reach God's standards on our own.

I think the idea of exploring this in a novel is great. whatever stage the reader is at on this journey, your story can only be positive even if it is frustrating. the reader might ask them selves why.

thanks again. best wishes and happy easter.