This is one of the first stories I wrote when I started writing seriously—one of the stories which got me into the Viable Paradise workshop in 2012, in fact. I wrote it before I knew much about story structure. I’d of course had Freytag’s Pyramid in school, and I tried to write this story in that form, but I knew once I finished it that I had missed.
Yet I thought the story still worked, I just couldn’t explain why. I only realized much after learning about the kishōtenketsu form that I think I all but accidentally hit on it when writing this story. Fortunately I think that structure fits the themes of the story very well, so I’m loath to try to ‘fix’ it. See what you think.
Also I wanted to write a post-apocalypse which reflected my experience growing up in poor, rural places which had lost a lot of population from the farm crises and were a little post-apocalyptic already. Somehow we didn’t descend into a Mad Max hell of guns and gas and hard men killing for canned goods past their sell-by.
I’ve mentioned before that I read a lot of webcomics, and that in the best of them I find more to relate to in the queer experiences they depict than I do in most prose fiction. (And maybe also that the format lets me take works which make me feel strong emotions piecemeal, slowing me down enough that I can process them without getting overwhelmed.)
Flocks by L. Nichols—which its website describes simply as “An autobiographical story about L’s experience as a queer Christian”—is a particularly pointed example of that.
A lot of L.’s experience of being Christian and queer in a place hostile to the latter was my experience too, and we used college to escape in the same way. The grinding sense that I was wrong, that I didn’t belong, that I was being punished by God, was something I lived with for a long time, and has made any kind of adult relationship with the church very, very hard.
For me the redemptive arc is that that is no longer my day-to-day, and I’m in a place now with people who are welcoming to who I am. The comic is still ongoing (posts about once a month), but it seems L. found much the same.
It is not crocus season yet. I just saw the first buttercups, the very earliest of the spring ephemerals, this morning. But it is closer to crocus season than it was last week, and for that I am profoundly grateful. It has been a long, hard winter.
It has been quiet for too long here as well, but I am trying to get back into the habit of posting again. Maybe nothing much ever at one go, but—it has been too long since I was in front of you, performing, and I miss that, so here I am in whatever small way I can manage.
Also! I will be posting a story next Friday the 8th—the first of my Patreon stories, promised last July and then sidetracked. (One of the excitements of my other line of work is that we can get called any day to drop everything we are doing because something important is on fire, and we have been very busy over the last year.) But the story is now prepped and copyedited and scheduled, meaning it will be posted, so do please watch this space.