Hello. This is William Morris. You’re receiving this email because you signed up at one point for a quarterly newsletter from A Motley Vision, the Mormon literature and culture blog.
As it turned out, doing a quarterly email on bits and bobs related to Mormon literature wasn’t something I was able to deliver on.
So here’s what I’m going to do instead: a one season deep dive on a specific Mormon literature topic.
Oddly enough, an ongoing quarterly commitment didn’t work for me. But a limited series is something I can do.
For season 1 of the AMV Deep Dive, we’ll be taking a look at all of the essays in Marden J. Clark’s Liberating Form: Mormon Essays on Religion and Literature.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I think you’ll find it quite interesting. Clark’s essays have only become more relevant since the collection was published back in 1992.
If you don’t want to hear from me, no worries—there’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of these email, and I won’t be offended if you use it.
I want you be able to enjoy each email without having to read all of it if if you just don’t have the time or capacity that week. So here’s how the emails will be structured:
Snapshot: A summary of that week’s essay in 50-100 words.
Best Line: The best line or two from the essay plus two or three sentences of why I think they’re the best lines.
Mormon Lit Recommendation: Exactly what it says. Generally will relate to the topic of that week’s essay but often in a tangential way.
Other Recommendation: Some other recommendation. Most often a piece of culture. So far that has included novels, films, music, and a work of literary criticism. May relate to the topic of the week’s essay; may not.
William Update: Announcements of work coming out. A sneak peak at something or other. A recipe. Something pulled out of the archives. Whatever I’m ready and/or in the mood to share.
Deep Dive: This is will be an in-depth look at that week’s essay from the collection. It’ll generally be 1,000 to 2,000 words.
Appropiately enough, the form each deep dive takes will vary depending on what I think the most interesting way to engage with the essay is. So far, we have everything from
a numbered list of observations –to–
three quotes + me riffing off of each of them –to–
reconstructing Clark’s argument from the end back through the essay to the beginning.
Some weeks will include quite a bit of summary; some will pull out a few strands and focus more on the topics I think are most relevant to the here and now.
The Liberating Form emails will arrive in your inbox every other week. Most likely on Thursdays, starting March 31.
So why do I think I can make this work when I wasn’t able to do the quarterly AMV newsletter?
For one: there’s an end point. And when season 1 ends, we’ll see both what I decide to do for season 2 (I alread have some ideas) and when I launch it (there will be at least a two month hiatus between seasons—longer if I’m in the throes of my next novel, and it’s become all-consuming, which is quite possible since I’ll be starting it in late summer/early fall, and it’ll be my most ambitious fiction project to date).
I’m much better at projects with a specific focus and an end date.
More importanly: I’ve already written 6 of the 15 emails (and have notes on several others), which means I have a three month head start.
It’s Marden J. Clark, and he, like Eugene England, was pretty adamant about bringing his love for literature and his faith in the Restored Gospel and membership in the LDS Church together.
However, like England, Clark also identified quite ably a lot of the tensions in that project. Tensions that have become even more so over the years.
Some of the work I will be doing will be meeting Clark where he is. Some will focus more on where I think he’s missing elements or where things need to be updated for modern Mormonism.
A lot of the focus will be on creativity and creating art, both in a Mormon context and more generally.
I’m quite confident that you’ll find this email series valuable wherever you are in your Mormon-ness. But, honestly, some weeks may be more interesting to you than others, depending on the specific esssay and my reaction to it.
Nope. If you want to track down a copy of Liberating Form, go for it. But I’ll be providing enough summary that you don’t need to read it, and any discussions we have will be fairly general. This also works because Clark’s essays tend to be on fairly broad topics.
Speaking of which…
Although A Motley Vision is on permanent hiatus as an active blog, the platform still exists so at the same time as the email goes out a post will go live at AMV with some discussions questions in case any of you want to drop by and talk about that week’s topic. And, of course, you can also reply to me on Twitter if you prefer to talk there. Or if you want to have a private conversation, feel free to reply to the email with a comment or question or request.
You probably haven’t noticed this, but I’ve switched email services from Mailchimp to Buttondown.
The reason for that is simple: Mailchimp engages in data practices that I don’t approve of, including selling data on to second party entities. Frankly, it sucks that so many of the platforms for writers right now are engaging in skeezy, unethical, and/or simply stupid practices.
Buttondown doesn’t do that.
No judgement for whatever you or your favorite writers use. I’d say I’m quite a bit more tech savvy than most writers so I seek out tools
For example: if you know what Markdown is, all of these emails and all of my fiction gets written in Markdown using either the Typora or Atom text editor and then either copy and pasted into an editor or exported using Pandoc.
Again: no judgement for writers who do that. I too like getting paid for my writing, but my Mormon literary criticism is a labor of love and will remain so.
I will be letting you know about any of my fiction that is published, of course, and where it can be read for free or purchased (from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc.).
I may also add a way to tip me if you so desire—and that will also be a platform I approve of. Probably: Buy Me A Coffee (or Postum!).
Any money that comes in will be plowed back into paying for AMV hosting, books for research/inspiration on future MoLitCrit projects, and production costs for publishing any of my fiction that isn’t being published by someone else—I’ve got both types in the pipeline.
In fact, I’m hoping to be able to share news with you on several completed/brewing projects over the next six months or so. Oddly enough, I’ve had a prolific past couple of years writing what I believe to be not only some of my best Mormon fiction, but also stuff that is pretty groundbreaking for the field.
I think that’s everything. If you have any questions or comments, reply to this email or ask me on Twitter.
I really hope you’ll take this journey with me. I think you’ll find it—to use a rather Mormon word—nourishing.
A Motley Vision