Regular readers of this blog may have noticed a marked decline in the number of blog posts. For more than fifteen years I have been writing blog posts here and articles for a range of websites, journals and papers. This sort of small scale journalism is rewarding but time consuming. It has been supplemented with the writing of books on the Catholic faith–at least one a year.
Over the years I have had ideas for writing fiction and drama–having produced some television screenplays, a few short stories and attempted a Narnia like children’s fantasy and a “papal pot boiler”–all of these larger projects were pretty awful and I got bogged down in the “long second act” Not only was writing long works of fiction time consuming and beyond my meager talents, but cracking the market–getting the darned thing published or produced turned out (once I had researched it) to be even more daunting than coming up with a great novel, play script or movie screenplay. So they fell by the wayside.
Nevertheless, I continued to ponder fiction projects. The problem of publication was solved when I decided to follow the tried and true enterprise of serialization. Dickens wrote his novels chapter by chapter to be serialized in popular magazines. It occurred to me that a novel written as a dramatized script could be recorded as a podcast and using the new technologies be put out through my blog.
So last year (or was it two years ago?) the story started to come together in my head for Renegade Priest–a good priest who falls afoul of some bad priests and a stinker of a bishop in the chancery of his diocese. I am now working on this project which explains why I am blogging less and writing fewer articles.
What I have discovered in the process is something other novelists and dramatists have observed–that one’s characters do and say unexpected things. They seem to have a mind of their own, and although you are their creator and have pretty much planned out the story, it takes twists and turns you didn’t plan and they do things that surprise you.
This mystery seems an apt metaphor for divine providence–the mysterious interplay of divine will and our free will. Somewhere C.S.Lewis talks about God as the great playwright. He is also the great story teller. He sets things going, creates his cast of characters, but we go off the reservation. We do things he did not plan and many things with which he is displeased. But just as I have to resolve my characters’ eccentricity and fix the problems he creates, so God grants us free will, but stays involved, tweaking the plot, shifting the events and moving the scenery to bring it all around in the end.
That’s why human history is such a long, drawn out drama I guess. The Divine novelist has innumerable plot lines to fix and countless souls to sort out and a vast family of his adopted children to help find their way home.