Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Universe is trying to tell me something...

Just kidding; I don't believe in a higher power that tries to tell anybody anything. But I do have an amusing anecdote for you, if you still read this blog.

With Mitt Romney maintaining a baffling hold on the competition (such as it is) for the Republican candidacy, and with the well-deserved success of the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, and with the internet being positively bombarded with those obnoxious "I'm A Mormon!" banner ads, the stars all seem perfectly aligned to assist me in selling Baptism the moment it's finished. (Not that I'll be surprised if it fails to sell anyway. I've been at this novel-selling game for almost three years now, and I am a hardened cynic with regards to the publishing industry. It's almost enough to make me drink whiskey and write poems about drinking whiskey, Bukowski-like.) I know the timing is as good as it will ever be for this novel, so I've been wringing every drop of writing energy out of myself through my fog of depression.

(I am happy to report that I did finally find a job -- a permanent, full-time job with benefits, which is something I haven't had in nearly six years -- and as I've adjusted to the working life once more my writey feeling has increased daily. I think I will soon be back on a regular schedule of writing, and Baptism will come together quickly once I am. Hooray!)

Anyway, along with Mormons being everywhere in the zeitgeist just now, a funny coincidence happened a few days ago that has zapped me in the butt like a cattle prod and has made me leap back toward this book with renewed focus.

I got a call from my ex-husband the other day. "The Mormons came looking for you," he said.


"Yeah, two guys knocked on the door and asked for Melissa Ricks." Melissa Ricks was my legal name back when I was a member of the Church -- I have since legally changed both my first and last names, but not to evade the Mormons. "I told them you don't live here anymore and asked them what they wanted with you. They said, 'We're from her church.' I said, 'She doesn't have a church.' And they said, 'Well, she's in our records.'"

We had a good laugh over it, and I told him it must be God trying to tell me to hurry up and finish Baptism for the Dead because He's not going to keep the circumstances favorable for my publication and the birth of my career for much longer.

I truly don't believe in signs, or "things happening for a reason," or anything vaguely mystical or "cosmic" in the hippie sense of the word. It's all just confirmation bias, which is a fascinating enough psychological phenomenon on its own that I think it's rather insulting to our magnificent brains to assign some kind of winking, nodding, knowing significance to everyday coincidence. But I have to admit to being entertained by this particular coincidence -- the Mormons haven't sought me out for twelve years. Why now, when I'm working on a novel that explores Mormon culture?

It gave me a good laugh, and it's stoked the fire under my ass, and that's all I can ask from the universe.

So yes, I am still working on Baptism, and I am feeling extremely cheerful about its potential. Thank you, Elders, for showing up at my ex-husband's door!