At last, today is the day I’ve had in mind for nearly three years, when Ellen Gable first asked me if I had anything that might work for an anthology of Theology of the Body short stories.
As I’d warned a few weeks ago, I’ve been spending most of my time on the Image and Likeness page. Here, however, is where I get to speak not as an editor representing the whole work and all the authors whose pieces appear within the collection. Here’s my author page, where I get to speak as just another author who has stories to tell, two of which got caught up in this anthology.
I’ve been working pretty hard. I’m wondering if, in the world’s eyes, I’m working “smart.” Am I working in a way that will give me some sort of return on investment? I’ve poured a lot of time into this anthology, maybe even a bit of my health. Will it be worth it? Will I break even in some fashion?
I don’t know. I’ve done as many of the supposedtas as I possibly can, just as I have for all my other books. Only this time I also have a troupe of other authors reminding me of all the supposedtas, giving me more, and correcting me when I fall short. (BTW, that was not a type of pressure I anticipated coming into this project. It’s been humbling, which is never a bad thing.)
Am I just selling stuff very few people want to hear? Nobody wants to hear that birth control might actually kill you. Nobody wants to hear that we shouldn’t farm people. And people aren’t exactly lining up to read that Mary, the Mother of God, was so much like us that it gives us very few excuses to pity ourselves. Why should they hand over their cold, hard cash to find out that abortion just might be destroying people, that our definition of “love” might be pretty badly tweaked, that marriage is so bloody difficult even when your bodies do have corresponding shapes?
I mean, seriously, why? Who’s gonna fork over the Washingtons and the Lincolns to have someone point out that… they just might be wrong? And hurting other people? And hurting themselves?
Man, life is hard. Writing is even harder. Writing warning signs, “HEY, YOU ARE ABOUT TO DRIVE OFF A CLIFF INTO THE VERY MAW OF HELL, SO STOP DRIVING THAT DIRECTION, OKAY?” is hard: making the signs good, and true, and beautiful, knowing they’re so very likely to be ignored. Every day as a Catholic writer is a bit of the Agony in the Garden. I’ve heard it said that Jesus wasn’t sweating blood because he was afraid of the pain of the crucifixion. No, he was sweating blood in Gethsemane because he knew, he knew and loved every single soul who would know of His sacrifice… and who wouldn’t give a crap about it and prefer to just die anyway.
It’s so easy to get sucked into that maelstrom, to stay in that garden and keep sweating blood. It’s a heck of a lot harder to look for the consoling angels and listen to them and focus on those who will listen and care and let their own hearts break, too.
But broken hearts let in so much light.
If you have let your heart be broken along with mine, if you have been one of my consoling angels, I thank you. From the bottom of my broken, tired heart, I thank you. Let’s keep writing the good fight.
If Jesus, the Lord of the Universe, lifted His head and carried His cross, then I have no excuse not to do likewise. Thank you for walking with me. Thank you for reading my signs. Thank you for standing behind me in the garden, helping me to go on.
That return on investment isn’t on this side of the cross, anyway.
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body is officially available today.
You are invited to attend the IAL Launch Party on Facebook on October 27, 2016 from 8-10pm Eastern Time.