Thursday, 12 June 2014

One week to go and other nervous things

It's one week to publication day. Yikes! I can't believe it's almost here. All sorts of exciting things are happening and appearing - like the little character quotes (below) that are being Tweeted by Windmill Books. Twitter users can retweet them to win a signed copy of the book.

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Of course, while it's an exciting time, it's also really, really scary. I'm nervous about reviews and nervous about interviews on live radio, but most of all, I'm nervous about the features that various journalists are writing about me - features that will, inevitably, concentrate on my Mormon upbringing. As a writer I choose my words carefully. On the few occasions I have written about Mormonism I have edited and revised my words, attempting to take a nuanced position that is, at times, both critical and conciliatory. It is absolutely terrifying to know that, on this occasion, my words will be chopped up and reassembled by people who understand nothing of those nuances; that when I'm asked about the good and bad things about growing up Mormon, or parenting as a Mormon, or the role of Mormon women, the good things may be omitted from the final piece, and that a sub editor, not the journalist who interviewed me, will write the headline, making it as melodramatic as possible. Just rereading this paragraph makes me feel nauseous. 

Yesterday I found an 'interview' online that quoted me, despite the fact that I'd never spoken to the journalist concerned. I suppose it wasn't a big deal - he hadn't put any particularly objectionable words into my mouth (just jumbly, rubbish-sounding ones) - but the fact that he'd felt entitled to put any there at all niggled at me all day. Worried that it was a foretaste of things to come, I wrote a Facebook message to my Mormon friends, alerting them to the fact that they may see me being interviewed about growing up as a Mormon in the coming weeks. I asked them to give me the benefit of the doubt, knowing that some of the words may not be my own. My friends outdid themselves with supportive, kind messages.

I was reading these lovely messages from Mormon friends last night when the New York Times broke the news of the likely excommunication of Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women and of my friend John Dehlin, founder of Mormon Stories and Stay LDS. It was such a strange experience to be faced with the generous, inclusive messages of Mormon friends on one hand and the absolutist, authoritarian dictates of the institutional church on the other. It reminded me yet again, that although I have very little use or respect for the institutional church, some of my favourite people in the world are, and always will be Mormons.

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