Falling In Love

Activity Being Avoided: going to bed
Music In My Head: I Want to Go to Marz – John Grant
Tea Being Drunk: marsala oolong
Book Being Read: Swimming in the Monsoon Sea – Shyam Sevadurai

I’m used to falling in love with my characters.  The stories would, I guess, be rather boring if I didn’t feel strongly, one way or another, about them.  I’ve often cried when something unfriendly happens to one of them.

But they’re fictional.  If I really don’t like what’s happening, I can change it.  I get more than enough reality in my day: that’s why I choose to write fiction–that, and it feeds into my control issues.

Falling in love with a non-fictional character is, I suppose, karma.  And a very good reminder to never do this reality crap again.

For one of those volunteer-your-time fundraiser things for my church, I volunteered to do the only thing I’m really good at: write a story.  (Seriously, no one wants me to cook.)  I wasn’t expecting too many bids, but I was a little disgruntled to see nothing on my bidding sheet.  And then something showed up.  They wanted me to write the church’s history.  Well.  That’s a little over the top.  If I were a praying sort of person, I would have prayed for divine salvation.  Fortunately, someone else bid higher, and I get to write a travel book.

Then I felt guilty.  Perhaps I’d whispered a fleeting prayer in my head.  That’s not very nice, Sheila.  So I volunteered to write the history.

It’s juicy.  It’s compelling.  It’s a lot of reality.

Mr. Stout was the first minister for this congregation.  He was liberal, open-minded, seemingly fearless without being impulsive.  He didn’t balk at the work to be done.  (At least, there are no outward signs of him praying for divine salvation, and he had to do heavier work than write a story.)  He helped 35 people build something from nothing.  He wrote sermons that were, for their time, pretty freakin’ radical.

After six years of working for this parish, he lost his voice.  He was unable to project.  That’s the end of the world for a minister.

He killed himself.

Unitarians are relatively open-minded about such behaviour, so there’s nothing openly condemning him to the roasting fires, but there’s not a lot of information about him, either.  They sort of deleted most of his life–kind of like, “Whoops, that didn’t work out.  Recycle it and try again.”

I’m disappointed that they gave up and tried again.  I want more of Don Stout.  Sure, hindsight is always clearer, but it would have taken sheer blindness to miss this guy’s intelligence, his creativity.  It’s particularly frustrating to be limited by other people, by their opinions, by their indifference.

I should be finished the history some time this summer.  After that, I’m writing a love story for Don Stout.  I’m not so persnickety about in which state of matter my voice is heard.

2 responses to “Falling In Love

  1. Kees Van den Heuvel

    Sheila, keep searching. There must be someone who feels like you do about Mr. Stout and who actually knew him.


    • Yeah, there’s still one alive — but her stories change as it gets later in the day. I’m choosing to believe the stories that she tells when her mind is still relatively fresh. I like those stories better.


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