Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Meeting of the Myths" Contest Discussion

For our past literary contests, Nicole and I have tried different approaches to holding online discussions of the pieces. Sometimes we've gone on blog tours, holding discussions for different pieces in different places. Other times, we've had discussions posts for each piece here. Sometimes there's been more discussion on social media; other times we've actively encouraged people to take the extra steps you need to comment outside the gated portions of the internet so that the discussions can be more widely accessible and easier to find in the future.

For the current "Meeting of the Myths" contest, we'd like to try something a little different. In addition to the many conversations we've seen on Facebook and Twitter about individual stories, we'd like to have a single conversation thread to discuss all the stories on this blog. That way, it will be easier to talk about how the stories speak to each other and what we get out of the contest as a whole in addition to discussing our reactions to pieces on their own.

The seven finalists are:

"Spring Hill" by Luisa Perkins
"A Voice Not Crying in the Wilderness" by Jonathon Penny
"The Trail" by Stephen Carter
"Where Nothing Lives But Crosses" by Lee Allred
"Harmony's Victory" by Hillary Stirling
"Eyelight" by Mark Penny
"Daughter of a Boto" by Katherine Cowley (coming Sunday)

Feel free to comment on any aspect of a story, on the relationship between stories, on how the contest fits into larger conversations about Mormon Lit, on what they can teach us as Mormon writers, or whatever else you'd like to talk about.

Possible discussion question include:
What did that story mean? What are the implications?
Which story do you find most interesting/puzzling/troubling/engaging/timely/timeless/shareable/etc and why?
Do you see any sets of stories that come from the same aesthetic or social impulses? Do you see any pair or set of stories that provide us with a useful contrast in approaches?
What do you see in the contest that you weren't expecting?
What haven't you seen in the contest that you wish you had seen?
How are you going to decide which three pieces to vote for?
If you could share one story with the youth in your ward, which one would you pick?
Why are you spending your precious internet time on this contest instead of on, saying, teaching yourself another language or watching cute cat videos?
What stuff you're encountered elsewhere on the internet relates to stuff you've read or that the stories have made you think about?

And...go.

42 comments:

  1. Well, the first order of business is to thank the Goldbergs for all their hard work and sacrifice in running these contests. Can I get some amens?

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  2. AMEN!!! (I know how much James like his exlamation marks and ALL CAPS!!!!)

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    1. Thanks to all of you for the thanks. We hope to continue holding one or two contests per year until we are too old and senile to edit reliably.

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  3. One of the things that has interested me most about this contest is how much stronger the stories seem to be this time around. And I wonder if it's a function of the word count.

    Back when I was writing for the Eugene England Personal Essay Contests at Sunstone, I would always run up against their 3500-word limit and chafe a little. I'd usually have these 5–6,000 word essays to begin with, but would have to carve them down, sometimes removing entire sections, in order to meet the word count.

    But I ALWAYS liked the essays much better when I'd met the word count. I felt like it really made me find the germ of the story. It prohibited me from being lazy.

    I felt the same thing while writing for April's contest with the 1000-word limit. I really had to work to find the story's kernel and the most economical, yet effective way of telling it.

    But, as I said, overall, I liked the stories in this contest better. They had more character, more resonance. It makes me wonder if there's a kind of sweet spot where economy and length find a happy medium. Where there's enough to explore with, but not enough to get lazy.

    I know that Jonathan's zombie story started out longer, but I'm interested in the rest of you. Is the version you submitted significantly shorter than your original draft? Do you feel the word-count limit strengthened or weakened your story?

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    1. Thanks for asking this question. As the contest coordinator, it's been great to see writers weigh in.

      We've done the 1,000 limit for the spring Lit Blitzes partly because true flash fiction seems to mix better with poetry than stories in the 2,000-word range and partly because we suspect the shorter form will be easier on casual audiences.

      We've gone to 2,000 for the Four Centuries of Mormon Stories contest and this because 1,000 seems awfully tight for the more complicated conceptual work we're asking people to do here.

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    2. For a concept like "Meeting of the Myths," I'd say two thousand words is the sweet spot. It's about as short as you can go -- you really need at least a thousand words for world-building, even the truncated world building needed for a flash fiction story.

      Two thousand words gives you enough "broom closet" to actually have a plot along with that characterization and resonance Stephen mentioned.

      On the other hand, extending up to three thousand or longer, and you're getting out of the range of flash fiction. It's also getting into the range where (at least for me) commercial considerations start to intrude.

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    3. Yeah, I think any longer than 2,000 and I'd want to switch from online contest to anthology with at least token payments. Both for audience reasons (longer forms feel like a better fit for an anthology than a Facebook link) and for writer reasons, as Lee mentions.

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    4. My story, "Daughter of a Boto," is probably one of the shorter ones in the contest, at 1301 words. The first draft actually started at 1260. Based on feedback from my writing group I realized there were some parts I needed to expand a little, but the final draft I submitted still only ended up at 1317. And then Nicole and James Goldberg edited out 16 words of English translation from Portuguese that wasn't actually necessary (my writing group told me the same thing, but I was silly and chose not to listen to them).

      Even in my longer writings (novellas, novels), I typically end up expanding as I revise rather than cutting--I sometimes start out a little too concise, or with not enough emotion beats, etc.

      That said, I don't think I could've cut "Daughter of a Boto" down to 1000 words. I would've had to cut a lot of the description, and to me that's where I created the symbolism that displays Ana Luiza's emotions.

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    5. I'm surprised you managed to fit "Boto" into 2000 words, to be honest. Read like a much longer story. Great detail. :)

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  4. This is a great question, Stephen. I'm much happier with 2,000 words than 1,000 words; it's a sweet spot for me, personally. The first draft of "Spring Hill" was slightly longer than 2,000 words, and trimming it definitely improved it.

    Right now, I'm helping several kids with their college essays. I do this every fall, it seems. I always tell them the same thing--to write what they want to say without worrying about the word count limit. Then I go through and show them how to cut words while strengthening their statements. It's an interesting exercise, polishing and tightening while carefully paring, and their essays always end up stronger.

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  5. I wrote for length. Lately I've pretty much been doing nothing but writing commissioned stories for anthologies and comic book scripts where a specific length is specified. You get used to pacing a piece to length, given enough practice, I guess.

    I pretty much planned out in my head what I was going to do with "Crosses" beforehand and then just typed it out. Being only 2000 words, that wasn't too daunting. My original draft (less a few false starts on a paragraph or two) was final draft* and didn't require trimming or lengthening.

    Addendum: "Where Nothing Lives But Crosses" is set in my STAKEHOLDER vampire story series (see my "A Thing Immortal As Itself" in the FICTION RIVER: HEX IN THE CITY anthology). I've written four or five of these vampire stories now with Nathan Fairchild as main character -- which very much surprises me as I'm not a horror genre person.

    * http://tinyurl.com/q9awxru

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  6. I don't know about anybody else, but the first time I was in the grocery store after reading Jonathon's "A Voice Not Crying" I found myself buying an extra $60 bucks of canned goods for storage. :)

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  7. Ha! You just need to shush your children in sacrament meeting...

    Lee: brilliant stuff, and brilliant, I think, because you don't normally write in the genre, and aren't bound to its rules. I find the same is true of my zombie stuff.

    I trimmed this piece for the competition, primarily to get it an audience. Like Lee's piece, this is something that fits in a more extensive project. Unlike Lee's, it isn't one of several zombie pieces in that project, but unique.

    In any event, yes, Stephen, I think it got better with the trimming. My time travel story didn't make the cut because unlike yours it had too much to establish and so didn't engage the time travel adequately. I was lost in the richness of turn-of-the-century St. George and the emotional tapestry in which the characters lived. I may incorporate it into my New History in order to address this without disrupting the purity of the narrative: the real world of the characters, and this strange and blessed oddity that played itself out: comforting and discomfiting at the same time. But 2,000 words just wasn't enough to tell it adequately.

    I turn the question back: do you think the shrinkage benefitted the story, in my case?

    And now, because I am a physical manifestation of the cross, I am going to not sharpen stakes or make homemade silver bullets. ;)

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  8. One interesting side note, the average length of submissions to the Eugene England Personal Essay Contest gets shorter every year. Often at least half the entries don't break 1200 words. This seems to affect their quality because last year the judges didn't actually give any awards.

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  9. Kayabtaguslen says thank the Gardener it was a word-count, not a letter-count. His name would have sounded funny if I'd shortened it.

    As for me, at 2000 I'm a finalist. At 1000 I'm a semi-finalist. What can I say more?

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  10. Paring down "Eyelight" was a middle-pipe affair. The Two-legs' rant was quite a bit longer and I took a machete to a fair bit of breathing space.

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  11. Different stories have different strengths. I thought it might be helpful for discussion if I tried to articulate what I think each of the stories does particularly well:

    "Spring Hill" does the best at bringing out the mythic depth in Mormonism. Adam-ondi-Ahman feels even cooler after reading this story. And the passing reference to keys takes them out of the rational, metaphorical place we let them sit and back into the mystical space where they belong.

    "A Voice Not Crying" makes the most interesting tonal choices. It's speculative fiction in the guise of documentary history. It reaches for reverence in a background drawn from horror. It uses understatement delightfully and juxtaposition imaginatively.

    "The Trail" has the most solid dramatic structure. There's a clear driving goal, well-timed obstacles, and evolving character tactics to reach an end. It pulls a reader down the trail and helps us recognize the destination.

    "Where Nothing Lives But Crosses" has the most interesting look at evil. Evil lurks on the edges of most of the stories, of course, but we tend to shy away from it. Through Raab, this story is willing to give me a compelling direct look at someone whose believable interests and attitudes are bad. And he fascinates me, even in the short space the contest allows him.

    "Harmony's Victory" is the piece with the most interesting rhetorical effect. Its twist doesn't just change my understanding of the story's plot, it confronts me with uncomfortable tensions and more or less demands that I think through some of my basic assumptions as a 21st century American and a Latter-day Saint.

    "Eyelight" is the most evocative. The story is full of images, some of them simply words in a foreign system of vocabulary, which suggest a far larger world of relationships and thought-combinations. Many of them interact in interesting ways with my own thought-system. I love thinking of God as the Gardener, of baptism as the vowstream, etc.

    "Daughter of a Boto" does the best at engaging directly with the a difficult issue in lived Mormon experience. It makes a valuable contribution by acknowledging a difficulty many members face and which we don't have a simple answer to. And it does so in a way that is emotionally engaging, rich, and likely to help a reader feel less isolated in their journey toward hope and peace.

    What do you think? Are there different things about some of the stories that drew you in? Am I missing something important here?

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  12. I'd like to hear about the writing of each story. What got them started. What sprang up along the way.

    Luisa made interesting use of perspective, telling a Mormon story through the experience of a Gentile and letting the audience pick up on all the cues the POV character completely missed. It's kind of fun that Emma Smith's presence goes entirely unexplained. My money's on a temporal whorl or something like the garden of portals in The Magician's Nephew.

    I've seen previous iterations of Jon's story, and I'm glad to see he made it work so well here. The guy's got a knack for footnotes and encyclopedic narrative. Something in the blood, I suppose. It's a good way to look at possible evolutions of a community.

    I got a kick out of Stephen's concatenation of an actual pioneer trek, a youth trek and a death-based temporal reset. Talk about they without us cannot be saved and all that!

    Lee's story struck me as the most mag-friendly. The characters really stood out as autonomous agents. The vampire counsel turning Mormondom into a pit and pendulum for wayward bloodsuckers was a nifty twist.

    Speaking of twists, Hillary's piece really yanked the carpet. I did not see that coming, but it made good sense when it came. It turned the question of being ruled by the Lord into a real dilemma.

    Then there's that really weird piece about an apostate shaman. What the heck was that about?

    Cathy has some really cool ideas, and the boto story is one of them. As with "Waiting" a couple of years ago, she takes a small-scale, ordinary issue and makes it geeky, this time using a kind of animism. I really dug the way the mother's magical take on a messed-up past turned into a soul-affirming incident that might not have been divine but got taken that way. Ain't that just how it goes a lot of the time?

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    1. I replied, but it disappeared. Here's a quick version:

      Drafted in one sitting about two years ago, and I thought about it again around the Four Centuries competition. Feedback on FB was helpful, but it was really just trimming it that forced me to worry more about economy and think potentially about points of intersection with other entries in the New History. That was liberating. I don't think of this piece in isolation, but I also had to think of it as independent.

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    2. "The Trail" is a story I've been writing over and over again for the past 24 iterations. Each time, it has placed in the Meeting of the Myths contest, but never won. Each of you have won the contest a number of times. Mark once blew his money on a new set of anklets for his year wife, and Luisa bought one of those white Obi Wan action figures that wasn't painted in the factory.

      I will not give up. Maybe this time around I will win! And if not, I'll just go into the twenty-fifth revision. My patience is legion.

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  13. "Spring Hill" had the strongest myth mixing -- Narnia meets Adam-ondi-Ahman. I was saying "Ah, man!" myself after reading this fine first story. Mormon flash fiction has really upped its game!

    "A Voice Not Crying" is the story that stuck the longest with me after reading. I think it was the direct, blunt (and thankfully fictional) First Presidency message saying "You have two weeks, brothers and sisters."

    "The Trail" is the most difficult for me to categorize. It's the most structured and the most stylistic. If you'd left off all the author names and just had me read them "blind," I'd have easily picked this one as the Stephen Carter one, probably by the first paragraph.

    "Where Nothing Lives But Crosses." Sort of the imposter cuckoo egg in the contest nest. It's biggest strength: I'm a big fan of the author! :)

    "Harmony's Victory" had sort of a Shirley Jackson "The Lottery" vibe where the meaning of what you read changes in the last few lines.

    "Eyelight" is actually the one I'd consider the least Mormon market-y and the most straight ANALOG-y or ASIMOVS-y sf genre fiction-y. Much like Eric James Stone's "Leviathan" (another planetary species missionary culture shock story), the veracity of Mormonism isn't as germane to the story as the cross-cultural flashpoints.

    "Boto" readily captured the mood and feel of the locale and had perhaps the most emotional resonance for me. While the story had its own deft myth-mixing and high concepts, it told a very personal tale of the porpoise of the Gospel in one's life. (Sorry -- couldn't resist!)

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  14. Per Mark Penny's request to hear about the writing of each story...

    The idea for "Crosses" came to me years and years ago after hearing a General Conference talk on why Mormons don't wear crosses (and that essentially, the way we live our lives are our symbol in lieu of crosses) and thinking "Look out, vampires! Don't bite a Mormon". There just was never any market for such a story so I never really gave it much thought beyond that. I have have the story idea down in my idea file of possible future stories, however, since at least the late nineties.

    I didn't learn about the contest until reading about it over at A MOTLEY VISION website on Oct 14. I sat down to write on the 15th. Once I realized I could shoehorn the story idea into my STAKEHOLDER story universe, I wrote it in four sittings, each about a 500-word chunk, in-between working sessions on commercial stuff. Ran it through the first reader process and sent it off.

    Sorry, not a lot of drama or juicy secret writerly details on this one. Just sat down, wrote it, sent it. Had fun doing so. :)

    Technical notes: I did learn during writing of "Crosses" that KSL radio established its 50 thousand-watt "blowtorch" of broadcasting power way back in 1932. I set the last scene of the story in St. George area because my first reader's just moved to Hurricane. The term Kreuzentr├Ąger is one I made up for the story (Google Translate mashup) -- I don't think it's in use. German lends itself to that sort of thing quite nicely. In answer to a question over on Facebook, "Bloodborn" and "baseborn" are my specific STAKEHOLDER terms for the vampire aristocracy (born a vampire) and the run-of-the-mill vampires who are former humans turned into vampires by bites. Vampire fiction often makes that same societal division. I just coined my own terms for it.

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  15. To answer Mark's question, what got me started on the story "Daughter of a Boto":

    -When I was 16 years old I spent 19 days in the state of Acre, Brazil, in the Amazon Rainforest, doing a service project. We started from the city of Cruzeiro do Sul and traveled on a boat upriver for four days to Thaumaturgo, a small town. While we were on the river we saw many gray and pink botos (river dolphins), and it was while we were watching them that I was told the legend of the boto. Thaumaturgo is where the main character of my story is from, and the legend of the boto provides the main basis for the story.

    -Fast forward to the present time. I've been writing a speculative novel with a Brazil-inspired setting and it does have some botos in it, though I'm using a Greek or Roman legend as the basis for the dolphins. So I've had river dolphins in my mind. And then this Easter someone gave my daughter a pink dolphin toy, which reminded me of my trip years ago and the legend of the boto. But I still didn't have the legend on the front of my mind. For months I had been trying to come up with a story idea for the contest, but still didn't have one. Then my mom sent me a news article about one of the people running for president in Brazil, and she was from Acre, and the photos of rubber tapping and the river reminded me of my trip. And suddenly I had my idea: a newish member of the church who has always been told her father is a river dolphin.

    -The story was also inspired by my current calling as a young women leader--we were working on family history this summer as a stake and at one point during a lesson one of the young women said, "How do I do my family history if I don't know who my father is, and can't find out?" And as I looked around the room at the young women I realized that was the case for not just one but several of the young women in the ward. And so this story is really for them.

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  16. Sorry I misspelled your name, Kathy.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Lee.

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    1. Fortunately, unlike a few famous early church members, I take no offense over name misspellings. People regularly spell my name wrong, and it doesn't bother me. :-) In Brazil, those that didn't speak English typically couldn't pronounce my name, so I was either Catarine or Ka-chi.

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  17. 14.10.14 Tuesday 22:58 Home

    I want to write a story about the way the Church's claim to Revelation and Authority has devolved into claims of Authority. Because that's what I'm seeing. Conference was full of it. How long has it been since anyone received a revelation?

    So I'm thinking some character picks up on unauthorized revelation and blabs about it. And the whole focus of the Leadership is Order.

    Maybe a colony somewhere. Maybe an alien.

    It's just that I think we've become so concerned with Authority and Order that we've become afraid of the Voice.

    I'm going to pray and stew.


    14.10.14 Tuesday (Wednesday 2:12) Home

    I'm thinking a title like "The Laws of Prophecy".

    "Look, Brother Kayabtaguslen, I appreciate that you were once the local Dream Watcher--and a successful one at that, but I am now the appointed authority for this community..."


    15.10.14 Wednesday 12:40 Home

    Kayabtaguslen, whose name meant Mountain Eye Descendant, left Elder and Sister Brandt's cave in disgust...


    16.10.14 Thursday 10:17 TLI A-1 (Dora Chen)

    This time as he climbed to the Dream House, Kayabtaguslen felt his skin burn and his innards freeze...


    16.10.14 Thursday 13:15 KUAS

    But the Peak dwellers were afraid, their fear came from a dream, the dream came from the leaf, and the leaf came from the Gardener...


    16.10.14 Thursday 23:50 Home

    Tea would be quickest...


    17.10.14 Friday (Saturday 1:24) Home

    bed and if he did not return to his cave soon after, the search might turn to the Peak...


    19.10.14 Sunday 20:52 Home

    Then he chewed sweetberry to cover the smell of the purging...

    "The Gardener will burn it," the Dream Watcher signed, then raced on all fours to the Two-legs' cave.

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    1. TLI = Taipei Language Institute (the cram school I work for)
      A-1 = a classroom in the cram school
      Dora Chen = a student at the cram school
      KUAS = National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences (where I teach freelance)

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    2. A take and some tweaks, including reduction for the word limit.

      James' quip about building a new language made me chuckle, because on 23.10.14 Thursday, I actually did go on to work out some vocabulary in the protagonist's language. A big part of it was a limb-based base-five number/adjective system.

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    3. 25.10.14 Saturday (Sunday 2:23) Home

      I have to cut nearly two pages from the story in Word. It's 779 words too long for the contest. That's a lot of cutting. So I need to look at the story in the abstract. What happens in it? What business, bustle and burdens are essential? Which can be cut?

      In the story, former Dream Watcher Kayabtaguslen must learn what is causing the animals that live on the Peak of his tribe's mountain to continually flee and return. Against the tribe's new traditions, he returns to the Dream House where he used to receive prophetic visions and realizes that the animals are having visions facilitated by the dreamleaf he and his predecessors relied on for communication with the Gardener. Recognizing that fasting and prayer do not work for his people, Kayabtaguslen breaks his streamvow and resumes use of the dreamleaf. Layer by layer he discovers that a massive object will soon strike the Peak and obliterate the mountain. He delivers this message to the Mormon missionary who is now the tribe's spiritual leader, but the missionary has doubts about the message's veracity and insists on fasting and praying for a revelation of his own.

      I need to divide the story into three acts, four stages, eight sequences and the requisite number of scenes.

      I like the cyclical nature of the first draft: beginning with Elder Brandt's rebuke and ending with Kayabtaguslen racing to the Brandt's cave to deliver his warning of doom.

      Maybe I should use some sort of five- or six-part structure, based on the tribe's counting system (0-5).

      So what are the bits I need to keep?

      Elder Brandt tells Kayabtaguslen that any warning of disaster or command to relocate would come through the appointed spiritual head (Elder Brandt), not a former shaman (Kayabtaguslen).

      Kayabtaguslen investigates the strange fleeing-returning behavior of the Peak dwellers and realizes that they are having visions because of eating the dreamleaf that is now left unattended on the Peak.

      Sensing that time is short before some disaster befalls his tribe, Kayabtaguslen takes dreamleaf and gradually uncovers the nature and general timing of the event.

      Certain the tribe is in imminent danger, Kayabtagulsen tells his year-wife to flee the mountain and then rushes to warn Elder Brandt and the rest of the tribe.

      Hmm. The first draft is not quartered like this.

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    5. I apologize for the lengthy "making of" excerpts from my notebook, but as I'd love to see this kind of thing from others, I thought others might like to see this kind of thing from me.

      And it beats the rant I was cooking up.

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    6. 14.11.14 Friday (Saturday 0:28) Home

      The story on authority and revelation worked out pretty well: finalist in 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz Contest. Now I want to write something on doubt and faith. "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" is a cute turn of phrase, but I think we need to doubt everything and be very selective with our faith. And be prepared to doubt the things we've put our faith in.

      The core problem with religion is its insistence on rigidity and commitment. If only we had a religion that consciously evolved, like science. I mean, religions do evolve, but against their will. They do not seek to evolve. They seek to be absolute. They wrest the word truth and seek to make law of hypothesis. Not even hypothesis. Theory. Musing. Fashionable explanation.

      Doubt keeps us from believing falsehood. Faith allows us to exploit truth. Truth is independent of teaching. It shifts, because we cannot see it full on.

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    8. The year-wife, past-wives stuff just kind of popped up as I went. I love that about the writing part of writing. And I liked the idea that the conversion of the tribe was still in process and that the tribe was making up its own Mormon folklore. It's fun to think that the Brandts may not have cottoned on to the fact that the tribe has a marriage cycle.

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  19. Sorry I 'm so late to the party; I'm in the wilds of Montana for the holiday with limited internet access. "Harmony's Victory" began with my fascination with the end of the Millennium. In many ways it's incomprehensible, the thought of rejecting the Savior when he's *right there* in his glorified state and yet they'll do it. I wondered how a person could be so thoroughly deceived to think this was a good choice (because human nature is such that we almost always try to justify ourselves). Originally it was going to be from another person's perspective after the vote was over but I realized that Harmony's point of view would be far more interesting. It was a quick write, and even though I could have doubled the length, I figured shorter was best with this particular piece. Usually I bump up against a word count and have to go back and prune back the prose.

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  20. I find all this fascinating. Thanks, Mark, for the journal excerpts.

    Factors that went into "Spring Hill":

    * I recently re-read D&C 116, and then had hymn no. 49 stuck in my head for a while as a result.

    * My husband and I once went to a ward Halloween party dressed as Han Solo and Princess Leia--but EVERYONE assumed we were Joseph and Emma, which was irritating.

    * I've been thinking a lot about Narnia ever since I read Lev Grossman's "Magicians" trilogy this summer.

    * I wrote the story in about a week and turned it in just an hour or two before the deadline.

    * I've always wished that there were a female equivalent to John the Revelator and the Three Nephites, and who better to roam the earth than the long-suffering Emma, whom I revere and adore?

    * Here's the weird thing that I hesitate to share, because it makes me sound like the freak that I actually am. When I was six and seven years old, I used to pray that I'd die before I turned eight. I'd heard or read that children who died before the age of accountability went straight to the celestial kingdom, and that sounded like a pretty good deal to me.

    * I wanted to have Emma offering a third fruit, one of comfort and compassion suited to the telestial world--the way women in the church offer those gifts through food on a regular basis.

    * A burning bush was important to me, but it needed to be subtle.

    * The working title of the story was "The Pocket Garden," but I decided that sounded too Beatrix Potter-ish.

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  21. Oh, and it was important to me to get the details right; the only fictional things about the physical setting of "Spring Hill" are the iron fence (in the style of the one around every temple) and the Samoan guards in their golf cart.

    There really is an Amish settlement (and orchard) in Jamesport, Missouri, and the closest ward building to Adam-ondi-Ahman is in Gallatin. Thanks, Google Maps.

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