I've begun my next (and hopefully last before I begin seeking an agent) edit on Kindred. One of the main goals I have for this edit is strengthening the spiritual journey of both Ian and Seona in the first half of the novel, laying better groundwork to support what happens in the second half of the book. You'd think after so many years of working on Kindred I'd have it down, where each of them are with God at the start of the story. And in a sense I have had, but not for someone who can't see the unwritten layers of characterization and story that exist inside my head. It's taken a couple of beta readers to let me know that the spiritual journey in the first half isn't on the page like I thought it was.
But how to begin, and make sure I get it down this time? I've been praying about that all weekend, and at the last moment this morning, as I was about to start editing, page 1, God dropped a thought into my head: let Ian tell me himself.
Well, duh. Of course. How silly I never let him do so before.
So here's Ian in his own words, barring one bit I found too spoilerish to share, and will be replaced by [ ]s. I can tell Ian wrote this at two separate times, several months apart, shortly before the story proper begins.
I don't ken was it me first turned my back on the Almighty, or Him that did the turning away. It's been too many years, with too much water passed under the bridge I've all but burnt. If I look back now--which I try not to do--I cannot even see that bridge, and don't think I could cross it were I to go back and try. Callum calls me daft--and things far worse--and says if I cannot make my peace with the Almighty, at least go back to Boston and make my peace with Da. Callum doesn't ken, and I cannot find words to make him ken, that they've somehow got twisted in my mind to be one and the same. If I've sinned so badly against Da, who cannot seem to bear the sight of me, what must the Almighty--Him Mam calls our Heavenly Father--think of me? And why ought I to go poking about some prayer book, or Holy Writ, only to find I'm as damned as my soul tells me I'm one day to be? I've hung the ax above my own head. I ken that. There's no pardon for me. Not with Da. Not with God Almighty.
When I do think back--if I've drunk too much of Callum's Indian rum--I try to reason just when it happened. When did I last feel some sense of the Almighty's approval? Or Da's. As I've said, they're the same with me. If ever I felt it at all, it must have been the day before I let [ ], that time I kent what it was she meant by it, and I let her do it anyway. That was the day I made my pact with the Devil, though it was some while before I kent that's what I'd done. So I tell Callum, don't trouble me with talk of redemption. Je regrette, as the priests are wont to put it, but my regret came too late, and I lost the place in this world Da chose for me, that might have earned me that thing I've wanted above all others. For Da to look at me and for once see me, and be proud of what he sees. I am that prodigal sick to death of the pigs, but unable to turn and look from whence I came, for fear neither Da nor God Almighty is watching for my return.
Post Script--Maybe I was wrong about Da? Maybe Carolina will be the place I earn back his approval. I will not hope too hard. Oh, I'll do my part. If Da can send me to this life and bear his burdened conscience, then I'll find the means to bear the burden too. Maybe I can do some good for my uncle's people.
It's come to me just now, a bit of Scripture Mam once read me. I cannot quote ye chapter and verse, but I mind it well enough. "If ye bring a gift to the altar and mind that your brother has ought against ye, leave your gift and go, make it right with your brother, then come and offer your gift." What have I to offer to make things right with Da, save my life, to spend now as he sees fit? That's enough to be getting on with. The Almighty can wait His turn.