What value prayer? (Bonus: Another “Finding Mister Wright” Free-Write)

I’ll be honest: religion does not often feature prominently in my stories. I suppose because my own faith is very personal to me, something I don’t always feel comfortable voicing in public. That makes me something of a coward, I guess, but I neither want to invite criticism for my beliefs nor have to engage others in why I believe x or y (but not z). But, as I’ve delved more deeply into the humanity of my characters, I’ve come to realize that they can’t all be just like me. That goes for their ability to be close to the divine as much as it does for their attraction to the darkness.

I’ve always been able to separate myself from my darker characters, the antagonists and villains. Because, while they can be enormous fun to write, I don’t consider myself capable of some of the despicable things they do. Or, I don’t like to consider myself capable. But even my “good” characters have maintained a distance from religion and faith that I think isn’t necessarily indicative of who they can or should be.

Religion is complicated, though. For me, more so than sex, violence, or any other characterization point. Why? Is it because I don’t want to dictate my beliefs to readers? Because I don’t want to be “outed” as being religious in a community where intellect is valued more highly than faith? I don’t want either of those things, to be honest. But I also can’t deny the power of prayer in my own life, so why should I deny it in my stories?

The link below will take you to another “Finding Mister Wright” free-write I did yesterday (~1400 words, 5 pages). I didn’t mean for it to preach anything to anybody. I simply had a notion about the Marshall-that-was that I felt deserved a bit of exploration.

“Namesake” – Another “Finding Mister Wright” free-write

I’ve been putting these in PDF form because I think it should be your choice whether you want to read or not. Not for any sensitive material, but because I know so many of my blogger buddies are on hiatus or simply don’t have the time (or inclination) to read a longish short story that probably doesn’t help them keep to their schedule. 🙂

Do you find your characters represent you, most of the time? Or, do you use them to investigate differences in opinion? Something in between?

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10 thoughts on “What value prayer? (Bonus: Another “Finding Mister Wright” Free-Write)

  1. This was heartbreaking Mayumi and you’ve described it SO well. I felt his anguish and despair, felt the love from the nun working its way into him, the Lord’s mercy at work. Nicely done!

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    • Thanks, Neeks. 🙂 It’s really just a flashback short, but I was in the chapel at university the other day and was struck by how important belief and faith can be to people, even if they may not assign themselves to any particular denomination.

      I was lucky enough to have some great religious role models through my life. A few of them manifest through Sister Lillian, here. And, of course, this is where little Lilly gets her name. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed it! It always makes me feel great to know my words can touch somebody else.

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  2. Poor Paige…that certainly puts the “Big Brother” side of Marshall into a new light from earlier. And his line about the patients not being his worry anymore once they are better sounded like Sayoko Uehara to a tee. And all for good reason.
    Though in the end, maybe Shepard Book said it best “I don’t care what you believe, just believe!”

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    • I miss that world. Book really did not get the full story he richly deserved. I would have loved to have seen his past come to light, especially how it related to him becoming a shepherd. (I always got the feeling he turned to the shepherd-hood as atonement for some past failing or transgression. Redemption, again.)

      The “especially sinners” dialogue actually came from an early go in “Fearless.” That conversation ended up going to Venus, but those words always stuck with me. I figured Paige’s accident – and Marshall’s ties to her – were a logical place for that exchange to end up. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. This was beautiful Mayumi – I think people tend to seek out a higher being when tragedy strikes even if they aren’t necessarily religious in the term of the word. We seek meaning, comfort and understanding of things that are out of our control. I loved Marshall’s character, I think you’ve nailed a strong man, with a humble soul and that genuine caring personality that you find with those in the health care industry.
    Beautiful work. x

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    • Thanks, Carrie! It means a lot to know I’m doing right by some of my characters.

      I totally agree with what you say about finding (or rediscovering) a higher power or religion when aspects of life are beyond our control. I’m so glad that came through. 🙂

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  4. These free writes are so interesting to read, Mayumi. The insights into your characters are so revealing. They make me curious about the full stories that have/will come to fruition. I tend to avoid religion in my writing because I’m afraid of mishandling it and perhaps drawing readers away from the true focus of the story. So if it’s mentioned, it’s only in passing.

    Yes, there’s a bit of me that goes into my characters. But they often have qualities I wish I had. 😉

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    • Thanks, JM. You’re in something of a privileged minority, as you’ve seen where these characters came from. 🙂 I’m happy to help them develop.

      I think all our characters – major and minor – come from some part of us. It helps make them real, both their beautiful and ugly bits. I agree I often wish I were like some of them…but I’m glad I’m not in many cases, too!

      The books I’ve read that have had religion as a focal point often approach it in a spiritual rather than ecumenical way, so it’s always felt very innocuous. Except for “Carrie.” 😉

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  5. I don’t think you as cowardly for not being so open about your beliefs. Personally, the most I even show with mine are little bits of “Thank God” or something or other. We’re just trying to not stir a pot of crazies who are looking to verbally attack anyone with a set of religious beliefs.

    I loved that line where you described Marshall’s sob as a gunshot. That image there was so beautiful, with a booming, violent sound in–what, the tiny chapel hospitals have? Lovely juxtaposition!

    To answer your question, I oftentimes have my characters be a part of me in some way or form. Sometimes it’s personality, sometimes they experience something similar (usually to an extreme) to what I had experienced and have to learn to cope with it. I worry that my characters are starting to meld into the same people, though.

    Great topic and wonderful little snippet! I also loved the sage-like nun!

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    • Thanks, spoony!

      Sister Lillian is based on an amalgam of very generous folks I’ve been lucky to know throughout my life. I wanted her to be religious but not preachy. Sage-like fits. 🙂

      I think we gravitate to people/characters who resemble us in some way. But, like people can be similar but different, so can characters in a story. They may be looking for the same thing across separate stories, but it’s the journey that sets them apart from each other. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about those characters becoming too similar. Unless we’re writing the *exact* same story over and over again, but I don’t find that to be the case. shadetheraven brought up a point in an earlier post that my Ross and Marshall share a lot of similarities. They do, and they’re looking for basically the same thing, but their “quests” take them on different paths from each other. That’s what I find most enjoyable about stories in the same genre.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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