Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mennonite Writing Stuff

I like being Mennonite. Theology aside, I like the coziness of community, of knowing all the stories, of the shared history and culture, and of having people who will be there for me in the tough times.

In this writing class I'm taking, we studied a story about southern California, and that sort of culture, where there are hordes of people but everyone lives only for himself, and people are utterly disconnected and alone, and I found it horrifying.

True, sometimes it's all a bit much, like when I feel like there's more asked of me in helping others than I have the strength to give. And sometimes everyone knowing our stories is a bit much too, like yesterday Emily had breakfast with her grandma who said, "I was talking with my friend 'Gladys Gerig' and she said you were at Fairview Sunday morning, sitting between two young men!"


So, the laborious explanation. See, one was a college friend 'Sam' who just recently made the choice to follow Jesus, and Emily wanted to take him to church, and he doesn't have a car, and Fairview was a lot closer to Albany, and then 'Jason' offered to get involved and befriend Sam, to reduce the potential awkwardness for Emily, and so they all showed up there on Sunday.

This will get passed back up the line to "Gladys," we all know that.

So, yes, this writing class I'm taking. After a rough beginning it's going well. They say writing is a process of discovery. Non-writers don't understand this, but it's true. You'd think you write only what you know. Obviously. But when you start actually writing, either fiction or non, you find yourself writing stuff down that you didn't know was in your head.

It's weird.

We have weekly assignments, only 500 words each so you can't write much. I'm focusing on Mennonite stories of course, since my goal is a Mennonite novel.

Somehow I always seem to write about a harassed Mennonite mom (surprise!) but instead of being all useful and cozy in this church community of hers, she comes across as completely smothered.

That's kind of scary.

Quote of the Day:
[setting the table for Sunday dinner]
Emily: It just doesn't GO with the table.
Me: Well, heaven forbid that the TEA COZY doesn't GO with the table!
Emily: I knew you'd understand me, Mom.


  1. said "Somehow I always seem to write about a harassed Mennonite mom (surprise!) but instead of being all useful and cozy in this church community of hers, she comes across as completely smothered."

    Is it possible that there is a part of you that finds it difficult to appear to portray yourself (even in novel form about some other random mennonite mom) as being "useful and cozy in her community"

    Your natural bent toward modesty and humility might make it feel like you are 'blowing your own horn', to show a woman you identify with, as being quite a help and comfort to others, intelligent, and well loved by those in her community.

    That IS what you are. Even if you'd rather choke than admit it =)

  2. Well, Anonymous, you may have a point, even if I'd rather choke than admit it. :-)
    I would find it much easier to depict a character based on my husband or a friend in a positive light.

  3. If there is so much 'coziness', I wonder why so many leave and go elsewhere?

  4. Well, LoaP, maybe that's a subject for a future post!