Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writing as an Act of Rebellion

This is part of an infrequent series of "Writing as an act of..." posts that includes faith, courage, and service. But rebellion? Yes. I'm sure you can think up a dozen examples of rebellious writing.

I'm not in general a rebellious person. Faithful, loyal, devoted. These are better words to describe me than rebellious. I probably won't be penning any inflammatory treatises about...well, whatever I might be rebelling against.

Lately, I've been feeling a little rebellious, though. Here's why. About 13 years ago, I had a thought, which turned into a short story, which gave me an idea for a novel, which I wrote, which led (many years later) to turning the original short story into a novella and a writing a sequel to the novel. (A lot of stuff happened in the intervening years, which I won't go into in this post.) The thing is, these books are about Mormons. Mormon people doing Mormon things in a science fictional situation. I didn't know it at the time I wrote that first novel, but apparently Mormons and sci-fi don't mix. (Huh?) I don't get it either. What "they" say is that people who read LDS (Mormon) fiction, don't read sci-fi, and non-Mormon sci-fi readers don't want to read about Mormons. Okay. Maybe that's true.


But I'm not buying it. I'm rebelling against that notion. I'm rebelling against the notion that books about Mormons are only for a Mormon audience. I'm rebelling against the belief that I can write either for the LDS market or for the national market, but not both, and certainly not both at the same time.

I'm taking a stand. I will get a book out to a national market that is about Mormons being un-apologetically, unabashedly Mormon. I will not be subtle about it. I will not be preachy about it, either. This may not be one of the books I've already written. It may not happen for a long time. I freely admit this little rebellion of mine might be squashed faster than a bug on the sidewalk.

But I will do it or I will die trying.

Are you feeling rebellious about anything today?

So, my non-Mormon friends, would you read my book about Mormons?

45 comments:

KarenG said...

I could have written this post 2 years ago, before Uncut Diamonds was published. Now I'm not so sure. It's a tough call, a tough sell, nearly impossible to give the main characters a religious or political persuasion and not turn a lot of people off, even if you're careful to write it without an agenda. For instance, substitute other words for "Mormon." Like "gay" "racist" or "born again Christian" and you can see where the problem lies.

Carolyn V. said...

I think publishing a religious book nationally is a difficult thing (Like Karen said). But of all people, I hope you will do it. =)

tiffany said...

i also think it will be hard just for the fact most non mormons dont understand our religion & dont want to

Tessa Conte said...

I dunno, I think ANY strong persuasion (religious or otherwise) and sci fi is both very easy and impossibly difficult to mix (and appeal to a general public). You'll have to find a way to make it unobstrusive (ie non-preachy), just one more character trait. As soon as you emphasise religion as a major point you'll cut yourself off from a large section of the market.

Another thing is that most sci fi books I've read have their own invented (or at least modified) religious systems, mixtures of true beliefs or extreme versions of them, something like that. To use an actual religion in the way it's actually practiced may be problematic in and of itself.

Danyelle said...

Right on, Angie!

I don't understand why Mormon and SF can't mix. I think it's important to do and write what you feel most passionate about. Great post! :)

Linz said...

Good for you girl!

lotusgirl said...

I agree with these comments. I think there are ways it could happen. Look at Chaim Potok. So many of his stories are about the Jewish experience. I think to make a book about the Mormon experience do well with a national audience it would have to be exceptional and show people the way they really are. Warts and all. Otherwise, non-mormon readers would take it as propaganda.

Angie said...

Thanks, Tessa. I do see your point. I've written plenty of non-religious stuff, too. Thanks everyone for weighing in!

Nichole Giles said...

Good for you, Angie! And whoever "they" are, is wrong. You and I both know there are hundreds of Mormon Sci-fi/fantasy writers who are successful, and whose work is widely read.

So yes. Be a rebel. That's probably the best way to stand out in the crowd anyway. =)

Nichole Giles said...

Good for you, Angie! And whoever "they" are, is wrong. You and I both know there are hundreds of Mormon Sci-fi/fantasy writers who are successful, and whose work is widely read.

So yes. Be a rebel. That's probably the best way to stand out in the crowd anyway. =)

lbdiamond said...

I applaud you for sticking to you guns.

I'm sorry (maybe it's a low caffeine level), but I must let my cynic out a bit...

Just put a title with the word "secret" or "shack" or "Da Vinci" or "the key" or "answer to everything" in it & people will be all atwitter.

Ah, okay, cynicism complete. (Feel free to delete my comment if it's too...urm, pessimistic.)

Shallee said...

Go Angie! And if this is the one you put out for boot camp, I'll so read it! I'll read it even if it isn't. :)

Have you read Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card? It's mainstream sci fi about Mormons, and I found it very interesting!

Jolene Perry said...

I think that's AWESOME.
I wrote three books about Mormons, doing Mormon things, not preachy and have had one Mormon reader and two non-Mormon readers. Everyone liked it. I still don't know that there's a national audience for it but one can always hope. I never really understood that because there's plenty of books on the shelves about devout Jewish families and Muslim families and I don't understand why we can't have some books out there about Mormon families.
Thanks.

LTM said...

Call me idealistic, but I think any well-written book w/an engaging premise and characters will do well... heck I devoured four books about vampires written by a mormon! Go figure... ;p <3

Erica said...

I love anthropology, I know very little about Mormonism and (as long as it's not preachy like you said) I would be curious to gain an understanding of it indirectly in the form of a novel. But I am a very open minded person and an agnostic, so religion doesn't make my list of touchy subjects. Aristotle said: "The mark of an Educated man is the ability to entertain an idea without accepting it" So write on!

Angie said...

Laura, LOL. I think you're right. I have a huge cynical streak myself. Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks to all of you. I think I should mention that the book(s) also have lots of non-Mormon characters, people of many races and nationalities (most prominently Native Americans) a Paiute Indian deity, evil aliens, and cool fighter jets. A little something for everyone, maybe?

Taffy said...

Shannon Hale wrote a book with a Mormon housewife that was national.

And weird about Mormons and sci/fi! More sci/fi is bought in Utah than anywhere in the USA. Plus, many of the big name sci/fi authors are LDS.

Taffy said...

I didn't finish my thought :)

I have a bit of rebel in me when someone tells me I can't do something, or they limit me or treat me like a child. I can feel my blood pressure rising just writing about it so I'm gonna go and find some chocolate now.

Stephanie McGee said...

You can do it! There's precedent. The original Battlestar Galactica. Kobol? Council of twelve? Yeah. You can do it!

Tamika: said...

If this is the story burning in your heart than I say, Go for it! We have to stay true to what our passion and purpose is.

I believe that God makes room for our gift:)

Angie said...

Thanks, Tamika. That's just how I feel.

Cher Green said...

Religion seems to be a touchy subject for some reason. I for one don't know anything about Mormons. Am I going to put a book down because of the religion of the characters, I wouldn't think so. People read about devil worshipers so how could they have a problem with Mormons.

Sounds like others have already succeeded with your idea, sci-fi and Mormons. I'd say write what you want, if others don't want to read it, well that's there loss.

Good luck.

ali said...

Angie? I believe you could do it. Huzzah!

Jenna said...

Some people wouldn't read it, but I would--I don't care what the character is, so long as the book is well written, and that's what should be looked at first and foremost. I'd totally read it, and I wish you luck! :)

AstonWest said...

Depends on the story. If it sounds entertaining, it wouldn't matter if it was about Mormons or not.

And if all else fails, have them blatantly doing Mormon things, put them on some far-off planet and rename them. ;-)

Larry and Cindy said...

There is no doubt in my mind this book will be published sooner or later!!! I refused to read the four vampire books because I don't like vampires but a friend insisted I go to the 3rd movie with her so of course I had to see One and Two and I really liked them. I think I would enjoy reading them too. It just shows you can't prejudge a book by it's cover. It will happen. You are Awesome!!!

Sheila Deeth said...

Just write! I've always thought they mixed well--Battlestar Galactica for example.

Angie said...

Thanks, Cher. I know I don't mind reading about people of different religions or cultures myself. Todd, I do hope it's entertaining, and I've actually done the putting them on another planet and renaming them thing.

Angie said...

Oh, and Mom, Dad, Tiff and Lindz, I love you!

Jewel Allen said...

Go for it, Angie! You should compare notes with Angela Morrison, who wrote Taken By Storm. Her female protagonist is Mormon and the whole plot revolved around her being Mormon.

Cynde L. Hammond said...

If it were a good story, I would read it, and since it would be you writing it...of course it would be a good story.

"Write On", girlfriend!

Cynde

Cynde's Got The Write Stuff

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

good for you! It's going to be hard, but I sure hope you succeed!

thewritewords-lindsey said...

I've a rebellious streak but not like what you're going through. Mine is that I want to show people that I can make it in this industry, that, yes, it's tough breaking in, but I'm good and I've done my homework and by gosh I'm going to be on the bookshelves of Barnes and Noble one day. Soon. : )

Jackee said...

I think Shannon Hale has proved that a book can be mainstream and Mormon. And many Mormons like Sci-fi.

Keep trying, Angie! I want to read it! :o)

Angie said...

Lindsey, that sounds like a great rebellious streak to me. Keep going!

Melanie Goldmund said...

Angie, I would definitely read your book about Mormons, especially if it's got some sci fi in there as well. But even without, I would read it.

Angie said...

Thank you, Melanie. Did I ever tell you how much I like "Walking in a Weevil Wonderland"? Well, I loved it.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Thank you! That comment just made my day. :-)

~Ryan said...

If the sci-fi aspect of the story was good then I really wouldn't care who or what the characters are.

Nice blog you have here :)

Cheers!

Bernard S. Jansen said...

As others have commented, religion within fiction is a tricky subject. I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

I think if you are targetting a non-religious market (as you are), the religious content needs to sit underneath and incidental to the main plots and themes of the story. In other words, the book would be about Mormons (who happen to do Mormony things) having an amazing science-fiction-style adventure. It would be less successfull - I think - if it was about Mormons doing Mormony things, who happened to have a science-fiction-style adventure "on the side".

Angie said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Bernard. I think in my book, the sci-fi adventure is the heart of the story, but the religion drives who the characters are and what they do (at least the Mormon characters). So, I'd say both are integral to the book. It won't appeal to everyone, of course, but I'm hoping there's an audience for it out there. Thanks for stopping by!

Theresa Milstein said...

If written, queried, and marketed right, everything has a potential for a wider audience. It's that much harder, but not impossible.

When you said rebellion in writing, I thought this was going to be about people who have had death threats or been imprisoned for their writing. In comparison, we have it easy.

Christina Lee said...

YES-- you rebel!! Write what your heart tells you to!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Write from your heart, and we'll read it! I strongly dislike it when people tell me that faith and fiction don't mix, or that faith doesn't fit with science fiction because it's not "science" - aggh!!
These people who say things like that obviously haven't read anything by C.S. Lewis, Tolkein (references to faith very minor in Tolkein), and Orson Scott Card.

Have fun, write well, live long and prosper. (sorry just watched the new Star Trek movie again last night, and the line just sticks out from my childhood).

And may God Bless all that you do!

Angie said...

Thanks, Tyrean. May you live long and prosper too. (I loved that movie!)