So I'm stuck.
This is a very difficult book. Maybe writing a new blog will unclog my brain and give me the creative edge that I need to have a successful day of writing.
Not only does this latest Tennis Shoes novel deal with the last week in the life of the Savior, it also deals with the last battle at Cumorah AS WELL as the Jaredite time period during the reign of Akish. Any one of those settings would require extensive research and imagination. But all three together!...well, maybe it offers some hint as to why this novel is taking more time than anyone wants.
The fun part is, I get to deal with some issues that no one--surprisingly--has ever addressed in the world of fiction. I'll give you one example. This one is as strange as it comes. Funny strange, that is. Okay, I think most Latter-day Saints are aware that the Savior had siblings. But how many of us ever think about that as any thing more than a passing thought? In two of the Gospels it even names four of the Savior's brothers (or half-brothers)--James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Jude). Many Bible readers make the mistake of thinking that the Epistle of James, which is famous for the verse that inspired Joseph Smith to seek enlightenment in the Sacred Grove (James 1:5), is the James from the first First Presidency, meaning the James of "Peter, James, and John." But in reality, this epistle is reputed to have been authored by the Savior's (oldest) younger brother. Another epistle in the scriptures is reputed to have been written by Judas. The King James Translators called this author Jude, probably because the name Judas referred to several other New Testament figures, including one of ill-repute, so they offered up the shortened version to keep this figure distinct from the others. What many Latter-day Saints may not know is that Jesus also had sisters. Extra-Biblical records actually give their names--or at least the names of three of his sisters. They are Salome, Mary, and Anna. Since such names are verifiable in different sources, there is little reason to doubt their authenticity.
HOWEVER (and here's the fun part) how many fictional or dramatized accounts of the life of Jesus EVER mention these siblings? Obviously they would have been a major part of Jesus' life. He grew up with these folks! Several of the Gospels go so far as to say that Jesus' family did not believe in Him, and yet two New Testament epistles are authored by these "brethren of the Lord", and many, many records speak of James, the Lord's brother as the Bishop of Jerusalem who was martyred about 65 AD. Even Paul goes so far as to mention that James received a personal visitation from Jesus that is not recorded in any of the four Gospels. (See 1 Cor 15:7) That makes him a pretty important guy! So whether or not these family members doubted the mission of their eldest Brother for a time, they eventually came around in a very big way. And yet such movies as Ben Hur, Greatest Story Ever Told, Jesus of Nazareth, Passion of the Christ and others never mention any of them. There may be some nefarious political reasons why the family of Jesus is given very little attention in the Gospels. I go over these reasons in the chapter notes of my novel since they are reather detailed. But a great reward of this novel is that I get to address this "wrong" and remind Latter-day Saints and all Christians that Jesus was NOT an only child. Not only did He have siblings, he also had aunts and uncles and cousins and so many other relatives that were a big part of the Christian movement for generations. Here's another little-known fact: James, and John--the same James and John who, along with Peter, visited Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery--were ALSO relatives of the Savior. They were His cousins. John the Baptist, we are told in Luke, was the Savior's cousin as well. If we were to apply modern prejudices to the early Christian Church, we might get the idea that this organization was nothing but a bunch of nepotists! But since the Lord was in charge, and since each soul in eternity must be judged on his/her own individual merits, I think we can feel comfortable that such things were organized in exactly the manner the Lord wanted.
But such issues do not identify the challenge I've been facing today. Today I must address the civilization of the Jaredites at the time of Akish. At first I was reluctanct to read Hugh Nibley's work, The World of the Jaredites because I feared it would not be the most recent or relevant work on Jaredite civilization. But the sad truth is, it's the ONLY extensive work that any LDS researcher has EVER DONE on the issue of the Jaredites. (If anyone knows of another, please pass it along.) And this book was written in the 1950s! Fortuntely, it remains an excellent and timely resource after all these years and did much to germinate certain elements of my imagination.
Speaking of which, I had better end this post and get to work. Sometimes folks will ask me about the difference between an amateur and a professional writer. Here's one important difference: an amateur writer can afford to nurse a thing called "writer's block." A professional plows ahead and gets things done. :)
(c) Copyright 2009, Chris Heimerdinger