I was a very strange teenager. If you’ve read Homeschool Sex Machine, you’re familiar with my orbit through the world of fundamentalism and homeschooling. If you haven’t read Homeschool Sex Machine, I wouldn’t recommend it; it says the word “bosom.”
One of the things I did in the 90s in lieu of dating or meaningful friendships was writing. I wrote constantly, and I did it all by hand, because I regarded myself as the last defender of old-timey journalism. Word processors? An affront to the art of the written word. [I don’t know what to tell you; I was like a 70-year-old teenager.]
Over the past couple of months I’ve been tracking down and digging out all my old notebooks. I thought, hey, what the heck, it’s been 20 years, let’s see what’s inside them.
I mean, how weird could it be?
[SPOILER ALERT: VERY, VERY WEIRD]
The Bible Quiz Diaries
As friend of the blog Perk City helpfully noted, “I think you took Bible Quiz more seriously than I’ve ever taken anything in my entire life.” That was not meant as a compliment, nor should it have been.
I wrote my own sets of questions to practice with, using the nom de plume “Buzzer Crusher.” Which was not to be confused with “Ska Hound,” which was another name I apparently called myself, which I found scribbled on some of my books:
Anyway, during one Bible quiz season I took it upon myself to keep a journal of the inner workings of our team. Future generations would want to know an insider’s account, I reasoned. Surely someone would one day option my astute commentary into some sort of Christian bestseller.
I filled the pages with breathless, grandiose prose, bitterly complaining about teammates who did not take memorizing Scripture as seriously as I did. I wrote tournament previews as if they were sporting events to be covered. I wrote scouting reports of the other church’s teams. I pondered strategy, and psychology, and whether my failed driving test would negatively affect the team:
[I got a 64 when I needed a 70 to pass. HUMILIATION]
The Resurrection Zone
One summer I got really into Frank Peretti books and Twilight Zone reruns. I naturally concluded that God was going to use me to create a Christian alternative to the Twilight Zone, which I dubbed The Resurrection Zone. I wrote a series of short stories that I was certain would shock and enthrall the global church. This did not happen. Although my sister did read some of the stories and she said she liked them. So there was that. She was 10.
To begin the series, I wrote a short story about a satanic cult that attacked a conservative congressman’s family because he dared to defend traditional values. Listen, this made sense in the 90s, back when Marilyn Manson and the GOP Contract with America were things. Anyway, the story’s title comes from this scene where the cult members get into the family’s house and the oldest son is trying to save his siblings and he hears one of the bad guys on the other side of a wall. His cool-guy action movie line, right before the story descends into a cut-rate Die Hard ripoff, is DEAD MEN DON’T BREATHE, and then he punches through the wall and knocks the satanist out. Or something like that. I’m not going to read back through it to check.
A Faith-Based Aliens Remake
When I was 13 or so, I got to watch the movie Aliens, and this was a huuuuge deal because it was rated R. (There were no lady blessings in it, so it was okay) I think the experience warped my brain: I became obsessed with the film, and immediately set about dreaming up a faith-based version, so that other sequestered homeschool kids could experience the excitement.
To this end, I wrote about 100 pages of a story that I was certain would be picked up by a major publisher. I was so sure of imminent success that I would periodically pause the writing and work on a casting list for the inevitable film adaptation. I don’t recall the full cast but I do remember that I pegged Denzel Washington for one of the leads.
The book had a working title of The Firefly Cover, and this was the plot, more or less: a team of Marines is sent to a remote research facility on the North Pole to investigate a disturbance, only they find a bunch of scientists murdered by creatures that thawed from the ice. The creatures are demons, but also dinosaurs, which the government was trying to hide because it was all part of an evolutionist plot to destroy creationism. I think the demon-saurs also had the ability to sense people’s sins, and any time one of the soldiers took the Lord’s name in vain he would get eaten. Also there was a lot of slime and the cool Christian soldiers blew up lots of monsters with their cool guns. Also there was a conspiracy, I think? Like maybe some of the soldiers were government agents who hated Christianity? It was complicated.
Head in the Clouds
I started my own newspaper-style column when I was 16. I don’t remember why I did this. No one read my columns, and I filed the papers away as soon as I wrote them. But I took great care to draw my own head shot for each column:
And guys, I think I cracked yet another liberal conspiracy:
I found it utterly foolish that I should be confined to simply the written word. The world needed my music, too, so I took my clarinet and began composing Christian rock songs.
One problem: how could I assure that no snooping worship pastor–or the Newsboys, for that matter–would steal my hits?
Simple: I created a fake production company and filled my notebook with official-sounding legalese (hand-written, of course) to scare off potential song thieves:
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