I'm excited to share that one of my stories, "Step Nine", was picked up for publication for Esoterica Magazine. I don't have a publication date yet because we're waiting on the artist to finish an accompanying illustration for the story. I feel like a fancy boy. Look at me go.
I thought it would be neat to share some of the inspiration behind this before it comes out, and share what I intended with the piece.
We always tend to think we are the hero in our own stories without really considering when we're the villain. This story, put simply, is about a woman owning the fact that, for a lot of people in her life, she was the villain. And, as part of her sobriety journey, she decides to try to make amends with the person she hurt the most (which is a normal part of recovery and 12-step culture.)
I wanted to capture the grittiness of a lot of the experience of someone in recovery - from the blunt language to the pace to the eventual release. I hope I captured it well!
What made me approach this story was the theme of forgiveness. I have been reading a lot of Miroslav Volf's work around that theme, as well as studying Scriptures. I find it absolutely fascinating. The practice of confessing our sins and wrongs to each other in the ways the early church did it are not practiced in the same ways today.
I also love taking night walks around Chicago, and I'm in the city twice a week. Every time a jogger passed by me, I'd try to imagine what their story was. In my mind's eye, I had this image of a woman jogging and trying to process heavy things in life. The story wrote itself from there - it's based on that feeling of Chicago's night life and that weird mixture of hope and despair in people you walk by.
Most of my work is a love letter to screwups. It's the same way with my preaching. I always try to imagine someone going through the worst possible day in their lives stepping through the doors. I pray, and think, about what Jesus would have to say to their condition. A Gospel that doesn't know how to talk to the people hurting the most is not a Gospel worth believing.
The editor actually emailed the story back at first and said she wanted me to smooth over a few things over, but she loved the idea of faith, addiction, and forgiveness wrapped up into one piece. This is a non-religious publication, and I try not to be too preachy in my fiction. But the fact that this was picked up during Holy Week, that it was sent back to be worked on so it could be better, and the fact that it took almost no time at all to get picked up, tells me I wasn't alone in writing this.
Looking forward to the release of it, and I will keep you all updated on future endeavors as well.
Click here for Esoterica Magazine's website.