I started writing November in White Sands when I was 23 years old. From the time I was seventeen until my mid-twenties, I found myself caught somewhere in the stages on life’s way between defending my beliefs and abandoning them. November in White Sands was written to capture kind of that existential stage of a person’s life, when the contradictions of existence begin to come into consciousness and need to be psychologically processed and assimilated.
In the book, Christ is already being dehumanized and viewed as a concept. I started writing this book at the end of seminary, and was experiencing a desire to preserve a sense of orthodoxy and reaffirm Christian values while feeling the pull to break away and be my own person. The way I mitigated this contradiction was by using the philosophy that people have to throw themselves at dogma and structure and live in the consequences.
An attempt to live the Christian life trying to subscribe to beliefs that are unbelievable and morals that are blindly followed provide the material the protagonist, Shannon Page, uses to experience his faith. His awakening to life’s contradictions feels like a violation of the spirit and clinging to the past seems like the easiest way to retain any sense of stability. But he also is curious and wants to grow spiritually – it’s just that he feels too damaged to find the energy to overcome his cynicism.
The outlet Shannon uses to work through his angst is poetry, which he publishes in a magazine called “Neutral Tones.” The poetry depicts numbness, estrangement (aloneness), and, ultimately, a reconciliation. There’s an attempt to play with language and styles, and each character represents some aspect of my psychology at the time.
In many ways, November in White Sands foreshadows the life of analogy that is depicted in A Dog’s Religion. Everybody has to use his or her own experiences to draw meaningful conclusions about God and the universe one inhabits.
November in White Sands is raw, the dialogue sounds conceited and cryptic at times, and it hasn’t been touched by an editor. A Dog’s Religion was a big step forward for me as a writer, but I’m not ashamed of the first novel I attempted to publish.
A Dog’s Religion can be purchased in both paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.