|“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to
~~William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well
Well, this is typically when I'd send the Valentine's
story/stories but I only ended up with one vignette which has
left me wondering if sizable sections of it should have the
"kill your darlings" rule applied. So I'm going to take
another week or two to figure that out. Meanwhile, my
literal darlings... aka the dogs... are being very whiny and
disagreeable today so it's been hard to focus. What time
I have had this morning has been spent on getting material
from "The Messiah" onto the Timeline and Encyclopedia.
So... I decided that since I'm not sending stories about love
today, I could at least share what I love about writing the
Dyeland stories. So that's what I'm gonna do and then
just mix in some miscellany.
To those who will be celebrating this Friday: happy
Valentine's Day! And to everyone, just a reminder that
God loves you!
Top Ten Things I Love About
Writing Dyeland Stories
10. Keeping alive characters I came to love is definitely
one of the main reasons I continue to write these stories.
If not for Andrew, Monica, Tess, Vincent, Catherine, Mick, Beth,
and Josef, I probably would have just started writing
stand-alone stories to amuse myself with. But when those
characters' respective shows ended, I wasn't ready to let them
go and, thus, Dyeland stories became how I kept them alive and
9. In a world where so much changes, it's nice to have
Dyeland as a constant. Since I started writing these
stories, I've attended multiple schools, held various jobs,
moved into my own house, had friendships change, lost loved
ones, gained new family members, mourned pets, adopted pets,
etc. While I try not to use writing as a means to hide
away from those realities, it is nice to have this whole other
world where I can safely grapple with things and know that said
world is basically the same as it was the last time I visited
8. I feel like writing these stories has made me more
empathetic. The characters find themselves in situations
that are very much unlike any I have in my life. For
example, it's really easy to judge a guy who suddenly finds
himself with a long-lost son who was the result of a
fling. As a woman, there's no way I could ever unknowingly
have a child. And I don't do flings. But when I
wrote "A Stór Mo Chroi," I had to consider how all that might
happen, how it would feel to be Arthur dealing with embarassment
and heartache, what the ripple effect would be, etc. I
guess the short way of saying this would be that writing has
enabled me to see a lot more gray where I once saw black and
7. To be honest, it's probably kept JABB from folding
completely. In the next segment, I'll write some stuff
that hearkens back to TBAA. But there's just not enough of
that to have kept this all going for nearly twenty years after
TBAA's last episode. Something new had to come
about. In an ideal world, the Dyeland stories would just
be a portion of the newsletter content with the rest being jokes
or commentary about some TBAA spin-off or reboot series or a new
project of John Dye's. But we know the latter can't happen
and, at this point, I'm pretty ambivalent about the
former. But the stories remain.
6. Research for the stories gives me the opportunity to
learn new things. Now, I haven't had a huge research-based
story since way back when I wrote "For Thou Art With Me" and
read the court transcripts from the Salem witch trials and
related books (although, now that I think about it, "Chava"
involved a lot of research, too). But almost every story
these days involves some manner of research whether it be more
specific things like what foods are halal or the latest
treatments for TBI to taking a broader look at issues like
clerical abuse and hate crimes.
5. The research I do for the stories sometimes scratches
the itch I was left with after graduating from formal religious
education. It also helps me engage with Scripture in ways
I might otherwise not. We can all read the Bible and
consider what a particular parable says to us and how we might
apply it to our own lives. But writing helps me get out of
my own head and consider what comfort the parable of the
workers, for example, might bring to a caregiver who frets about
the salvation of a patient.
4. Andrew. Yes, I still have a crush on
Andrew. And even though the Andrew in the Dyeland stories
isn't exactly supposed to be the Andrew I found so enchanting on
TBAA... he's definitely inspired by him and so my crush
continues and the stories give me a good way to channel that
into something that, hopefully, impacts others. And it's
just nice to feel swoony sometimes.
3. I've made some great friends because of these
stories! And, yes, I've made great friends largely because
of TBAA and John Dye. But I've had many deep, thoughtful
conversations mainly about the stories that have deepened those
friendships. Love that! I also love when those
friends write stories. It's nice to be surprised for once!
2. Joshua. I mean, sure, every so often I wish I'd
more directly taken after Fr. Joseph Girzone and written Joshua
stories that stood apart from any existing property. But
there's just something so exciting and moving about thinking
about Jesus ministering to, say, vampires or spending time with
a future angel of death as His own death approached. I
believe that writing about such scenarios, outlandish as they
may be, helps me connect with the reality of Joshua in new ways.
1. Reminding people that God loves them is, I believe, the
greatest legacy that TBAA left behind. It feels good to
take inspiration from the show and find creative ways to
continue to spread that all-important message.
the Angel of Angels: The "Did That Really
Dear Angel of Angels,
I recently rewatched "Clipped Wings" and while I understand that
it was part of the then-common practice of TV writers and
producers putting together a clip show for an easy episode
during a non-sweeps month... it still feels weird to me. I
mean I liked the concept of Monica's friend-turned-nemesis
trying to derail her review. What I didn't like was Ruth
seeming ready to allow that to happen. Would God really
entrust an unfeeling bureacrat with so much power? And why
would He need another angel to do a review, anyway? If God
is limitless, why couldn't He do it Himself?
Monica Was Framed
God has use for everybody... including
bureaucrats. But you are correct that no actual
assessment of an angel would play out like what you saw in
that episode. Firstly, the direct supervisor of the
angel would conduct the review. God would be there, of
course. He's always present. But a review is a
good way for a supervisor and trainee to connect and God
loves to see relationships grow. A third party, in
this case Ruth, could be involved if their presence was
helpful to the angel, supervisor, or even the third
party. That God would use the review of one angel to
heal another angel is very much in keeping with how He
works. But in the episode, there was an element that
you would never see in an actual angelic review.
Monica wouldn't have been made to feel that she was in
danger of demotion or expulsion. That's just
cruel. But it makes for good TV, I suppose.
The Angel of Angels
Dear Angel of Angels,
Do you really sound like Darth Vader?
A Star Wars Fan
I sound like King Jaffe Joffer.
But may the Force (meaning God) be with you.
The Angel of Angels
Dear Angel of Angels,
So I was watching "The Journalist"... again. I just get
all the feelings when Andrew's praying on those stairs...
But before that, I'm always horrified when Andrew flees the
newsroom in tears and Monica just... stands there. Like...
is that for real?!
Need to Know
Dear Need to Know,
Except for God, none of us are perfect. It's
true that Monica didn't follow Andrew out of the
newsroom. But it's also true that, at points during
his life, Andrew has given the impression that he likes to
deal with his feelings alone. We can all point fingers
at Monica but none of us were there. It's also
important to remember that she'd only known Andrew for about
a year at that time. She was also relatively
inexperienced as an angel. I'm sure that, if she could
go back in time, Monica would have comforted Andrew. I
think it's much more important to focus on their
relationship right now. They're good friends and God
is very proud of them.
Be at peace!
The Angel of Angels
This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye
for creating such a lovable character in Andrew!
Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched
by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline
Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are
not being used to seek profit.)