Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Other Mormon Pioneers

By Keith Fisher

In my blog last week, I mentioned the writers that were published before the market got so tough. It is those writers I would like speak of again today.

Like many of you, I remember going to an LDS bookstore and seeing the scriptures and many non-fiction books about the scriptures. There were other things as well like construction paper, carbon paper, and pictures that depicted the Savior. The fiction books, if there were any, were "G" rated novels that were safe for children to read.

Then came a revolution. Many brave souls started to write fiction, about LDS people or LDS subject matters. There were artists who began to paint, songwriters who expressed their love of the Lord, and many people who followed there dream of being published.

Much of the fiction from that time was mediocre by today’s standards. I re-read many of those works looking for ways to improve my writing. I often stop to examine whole chapters and notice some rule has been broken. I resist the urge to use a red pencil out of respect for the book.

The other day, I was re-reading a work I enjoyed about twenty years ago. I became incensed, wondering how that writer got published when I’ve been rejected for breaking the same rules of good writing. Then I went to the public library with my family.

While I was there, I picked up a copy of a new book by an author I met at a writer’s conference. I am learning from that book too. I have found plot twists that completely astonished me. Something the other author was unable to do. While I was perusing the shelves, I turned a corner and discovered a surprise. Taking up almost two shelves, were books that were written by the author that I had criticized.

I have enjoyed his stories. I have learned the lessons he taught me, but I had no idea that he had written so many books. Then it happened: I realized that although he and many others have broken many of the writing rules we follow today, they were pioneers. We trudge in their footsteps and creep along rewriting, restructuring, and discarding our latest inspiration because it doesn’t quite work.

So in the spirit of the Pioneer Day season, the time that we celebrate our Mormon pioneers, I say hooray for the pioneers of LDS Fiction. Without them the market would not be what it is today.

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