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Any Gift You Have To Pay For: My comments about the short story "Kindle"
Posted by Douglas, Dec 7, 2008. 1775 views. ID = 2085

Any Gift You Have To Pay For

Posted by Douglas, Dec 7, 2008. 1775 views. ID = 2085
This post was written in 41 minutes.
This post has been awarded 16 stars by 4 readers.
This post is Part 19 of a writing series titled Kindle.

This morning's advent message was based on the passage in II Corinthians that talks about the "indescribable gift." The pastor made the following statement: "Any gift you have to pay for is no gift at all."

That statement reminded me that I never wrote up my "comments" about my short story Kindle.

Because, you see, that was kind of the whole point of the story. In a way, this story is similar to my short story The Bovine Man which I wrote back in June of this year. In the story of the Bovine Man, the Bovine Man is a "god" who demands a sacrifice of his worshipers, and he doesn't care who pays the price, as long as the price is paid by someone, and he gets to revel in the cruelty of it. The narrator contrasts that "god" with the God he believes in, who, instead of demanding a sacrifice, becomes the sacrifice himself. It was an overtly religious story.

With Kindle, I wanted to explore the same idea, but in a less overt way. Obviously, since it is dealing with "gods" (the Muses) it has a religious element to it, but because they are Greek/Roman gods, we are quick to view this as a fantasy, rather than a religious story.

The plain and simple realization that Pyre comes to is that his gods have given him nothing for free; a payment must be made for his gift, and the payment was made by him. Ultimately, he - like the rhyming old man - understands that the only thing to do with such a gift is to reject it.

He realizes that no god is worth serving who does not value his worshipers more than he values the works of their hands.

Like I said, I didn't want to make this a blatant message, but I did hint at it here (in the chapter "Manifesting"): "It was the glory of stained glass and gilded pictures, the majesty of ultimate sacrifice made by the god-man they worshiped, the beauty of music that was completely unlike the urban symphony, and the wonder of a people who had the strange yet undeniable hope that there was more to this life than"

In this paragraph, Pyre had a brief encounter with a different sort of god - one who, like his gods, recognized that a payment must be made for every gift, but then, unlike his gods, chose to pay that price himself. A god who, instead of servitude, offered friendship and freedom. ("I no longer call you slaves, but friends," and "The Truth will set you free.")

Most of this story I had well plotted out before I started writing it (I actually worked out the storyline back in the summer) so it was just a matter of fleshing out the ideas as I went.

One thing that changed after I started writing was the idea that the old man would be - like Pyre - a former Kindle. Originally, he was going to just be a crazy old man who liked to quote nursery rhymes. I decided, after the first couple chapters, that it would be helpful to have him a bigger part of the story - without him, the last chapter would have been entirely the inner thoughts of the main character. Adding the poet's strange dialog, I thought, would make it more interesting.

This fall I flipped on the TV one evening and caught the movie City of Angels with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. It occurred to me that Pyre's journey toward becoming human was very similar to Cage's character's journey from being an angel to being human. I tried not to let that movie influence the way I wrote the story - but in retrospect, I think I put more emphasis on the exploration of sense than I would have if I hadn't seen that movie.

So there you have it - just a little bit of "behind the scenes!"

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 16 stars by 4 readers.
This post is Part 19 of a writing series titled Kindle.

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