The second annual Mormon Lit Blitz began this week, and rather than participating behind the scenes, I get to to compete this year. My short story “Regimen” went up on James Goldberg’s Mormon Midrashim blog yesterday. (See a full list of finalists below.)
“Regimen” is the third piece of micro-fiction I’ve had posted online. The first, “Album,” was posted on Everyday Mormon Writer shortly after last year’s Blitz. My second piece, “The Curse of Eve,” went up on Wilderness Interface Zone in February. I’ve been pleased with all three pieces. They have been a nice creative outlet and distraction from my dissertation writing.
In the spirit of Wm Morris’ “Liner Notes,” I’ll offer a few notes on “Regimen” for readers interested in its origins. Initially, the story began as an homage to Douglas Thayer’s fiction, although many of the Thayeresque elements became lost through revision, particularly in the second half of the story. I wanted the story to be about a young man’s awakening to the disparities between what is real and what he often assumes and imagines to be real. One thing Thayer’s writing has done, I think, is make us more aware of the inner lives of young men in the Church–inner lives which tend to be much richer, imaginative, and valued than we as adult leaders generally want to believe. In “Regimen,” I wanted this valued–even sacred–inner life to surface, or threaten to surface, in a way that challenged the main character’s hold on it. I wanted him to feel his world coming apart.
I also tried to address the issues of wealth and social inequality within Mormon culture, which is another prominent theme in Thayer’s work, and something I felt keenly as a youth in the Church. Wyler’s ambivalence toward his adolescent body is another nod toward Thayer and his career-long study of Mormon masculinity. Wyler’s idealization of Tina and preemptive disillusionment, however, derive from my own observations about how young Mormon men learn to think about young women.
The green bikini is symbolic. Opaque clues to the origins of the color green are in Thayer’s The Conversion of Jeff Williams, my favorite Thayer novel.
I have more to say, but I think I’ve already indulged enough in self-analysis. I’ve enjoyed reading the responses and analyses from readers. I hope to read more.
I’m also enjoying daily Mormon literature. It’s going to be a great two weeks.
Here’s the Mormon Lit Blitz line up:
Mon, 13 May: Introductory essay by the editors
Tues, 14 May: “Actionable Intelligence” by Jonathon Penny
Wed, 15 May: “Regimen” by Scott Hales
Thur, 16 May: “Celestial Terms” by Sarah Dunster
Fri, 17 May: “The Accidental Jaywalker” by Ben Crowder
Sat, 18 May: “Dumb Idols” by Hilary Stirling
Mon, 20 May: “Sister” by Merrijane Rice
Tues, 21 May: “Kayden Abernathy’s Journal Pages 35-37 Partially Recovered from the House Fire, 6/21/2013” by Steven Peck
Wed, 22 May: “Natural Coloring” by Marianne Hales Harding
Thu, 23 May: “Birthright” by Emily Harris Adams
Fri, 24 May: “In Which Eve Names Everything Else” by Katherine Cowley
Sat, 25 May: “When I Rise” by Kimberly Hartvigsen