“By That Sin Fell the Angels”

While waiting for NaNoWriMo to begin in November, I’ve been attempting to finish up a YA novel I put aside last July called “By That Sin Fell the Angels” (a quote from Shakespeare’s Henry VIII).  It’s a difficult one for me to write, since it involves teen suicide and young people struggling with the fundamentalist Christian attitudes they’ve been raised with. 

I spent some time in this type of environment as a teenager and, frankly, it led to me contemplate suicide, if not actually attempt it.  I have journal entries from that time in which I kept analyzing my dreams and reactions to other boys and girls, looking for hints that I was outgrowing my homosexual tendencies.  I would celebrate any sign that I might be growing attracted to girls, despair about erotic dreams I was having about boys, and try to rationalize my feelings.  I prayed constantly to be cured.  But eventually I had to acknowledge that my sexuality was not going to go away.  It was part of me and I had to learn to live with it.  Unfortunately, I was so deeply ensconced in the literal interpretation of the Bible that it was impossible for me to find acceptance of myself as a gay man in those pages.  Eventually, I turned away from Christianity.

It’s hard, delving back into the bigottry of fundamentalist churches such as Assembly of God (which used to be my church).  This is why I put the novel aside this summer.  It was painful and unpleasant.  Every night, after writing, I had to remind myself that this was no longer my life and I could leave it behind on my computer.  I had a wonderful fiance and a house and my life was good.

I decided I needed a break from it, even though the writing itself was going well.  And that was probably best for my mental state.  But at the beginning of this month, I grew curious about what I’d written so far.  So I read it.  And it was good!  Strange, a bit surreal and disturbing, perhaps, but engrossing.  And it needed an ending.  So I began working on it again.

To my surprise, the relentlessly dismal tone of the novel took a significant turn for the better at the climax of the story.  Suddenly, these characters who seemed bent on their own destruction were finding ways to resolve their issues.  And I realized that, of course, this is how it has to be, if teens reading it someday are to take away any hope from it.  A character stated at one point in the novel, way back in July, “When push comes to shove, love usually trumps belief.”  I realized when I wrote that, that it might end up being what the novel was trying to “say.”  And now I know that it is.  Perhaps that isn’t always the case in real life, but often it is.  And it should be.  Always.

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