Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Unfinished Business

I've always admired the Motzarts and Bobby Fischers of the world, mostly because I could never imagine being so focused on just one thing. I'm more of a Da Vinci, with my hand in a hundred different hunny pots. This tendency makes it especially hard as a writer to get anything published because in order to publish something, you have to finish something. My first manuscript on manic-depression (which I thought I finished three years ago) has gone through fourteen major edits, has been rejected by thirty-plus agents and now I am finding some major holes I would like to patch and develop.

Of course, that would mean staying with that project for an extended period--the prospect is not enthralling. I am a Big Picture person, not a details person. In order to avoid doing that I started up a side piece that I thought would be fun to develop--a series of essays and reflections using the bicycle as a metaphor for the perfect life, one based in simplicity, connection to the earth, physically engaged, free. I reasoned that it could be written piecemeal and stitched together to avoid having to approach it as one Big work. I'm still working on that one. I went to Mexico last year for a week to chill out and devote some time to the project but ironically didn't get a lick of writing done.

I mentioned recently to a friend an idea I had for a novel. Fiction is not exactly my forte, nor my favorite genre to write; nonetheless, it always crops up in my mind begging to be let out on the page. It is about a monk who becomes disillusioned with the mission of his monastery to provide for "the poor, the widowed, the orphan, the sick, and the hungry." He leaves and makes his way to Los Angeles, where he gets a job as a dishwasher and is exposed to the life of the most glamorous celebrities. Seeing the sickness of their souls, he prays daily for the opportunity to administer to their needs and is one day visited by a B-list actor. The actor, disillusioned himself with the empty promises of Hollywood, takes to the monk and begins to tell those in his inner circle about his wisdom. News spreads throughout Hollywood of the monk and his "spiritual healing" ministry. But after a large number of actors and actresses leave the glitz and glamour of the big screen to become disciples, a band of agents decide for the sake of their jobs that it is time to do something about this "Moviestar Monk."

The book is meant to be a challenge to the conventional Christian notion of who "the poor" are, and to expose the downfalls of this 'preferential option' when that option leaves out those who need the Gospel the most...but are least likely to be exposed to it. My friend thought it was a great idea. But as all writers know, "I had a great idea for a book..." is not quite the same as a book itself.

Listening to: Louis Armstrong--100 Anniversaire

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