This past week, I attended a book club to discuss my book The Devil Within and do a little book signing. I’m always a little nervous attending these functions, but it’s nothing a big glass of wine won’t cure. 😉 Luckily, the book clubs I go to usually have wine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly outgoing but I’m always nervous and a little shy in a group of people I don’t know at first. It takes me a few minutes to come out of my shell.
Book clubs are always interesting, because sometimes readers have insight on your book that you didn’t necessarily have. Or their opinions about the characters and the events differ from the author’s own thoughts. I find this intriguing, and it’s one of the things I love most about writing: the reader’s reaction.
At this book club, one of the attendees questioned by inspiration. I’ve never had this happen before, but it made me think about inspiration. Because really, inspiration is a funny thing. Slimy, slippery, there one minute and gone the next. A single fleck of an idea that spins into a larger story like a blanket being spun from yarn.
What about this sign inspired me to write about Will and his family? I’d driven past this sign a million times, and then one day as I drove past it I thought about a little boy, growing up on that beautiful rolling hill, in a family that used religion to justify abuse.
Religion and the South go together like peanut butter and jelly. But religion and big churches can always be used to further hateful agendas. They can be full of hypocrisy. They can provide so much good too: comfort, devotion, and social outlets. And looking at this sign, spawned the idea in my head of Will being stuck in the middle of the two: devotion to religion as a comfort and devotion to religion as a way to further hate.
What inspired me to write this book? My own background of growing up in the South. My own thoughts on how religion and Christianity ought to promote love and peace instead of hatred and judgement, a thought I’ve struggled with my whole life in respect to the promotion of the Christian agenda. Spirituality and godliness plus church don’t always necessarily go together. One can lead a Christian life without ever attending church. Or one can lead a life promoting kindness and faith without even believing in God.
Driving to Knoxville with my oldest son two weeks ago, we passed this sign and here was our discussion (He’s 11):
M: What do you think about the message on that sign?
C: I think it’s true. Church is good. God is good.
M: So do you think if you have a person who is always doing the wrong thing, and he’s hateful, and hurtful that if he goes to church the devil won’t get him?
C: Backtracks, Well, um, maybe not.
M: What if you have a person who doesn’t go to church, maybe doesn’t even believe in God, and mostly does the right thing (there is no always–no one always does the right thing)? Is that person doomed to an eternity in hell, because he didn’t go to church even though he was true and good?
C: You’re right. The devil wouldn’t get that good person.
It’s all about perspective. I’m interested in knowing what road my next flake of inspiration will take me down.
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