This is a continuation, sort of, from The Shack Update – Background #2
Okay, now you have to try and understand how weird this is. I am sitting in Eagle Creek, in a rented house, writing a story for my kids. I am not writing a story that I intend or expect will be published. Actually the thought never even entered my mind. I was going to write this thing as a gift, then go down to Office Depot or Kinkos or somewhere and photoshop a cool cover, put it in a spiral bound book sort of thing, and that would be that.
So, I didn’t have to follow any normal rules about writing something. Actually, I didn’t even really know or care about what the normal rules might be…never thought about it. I wanted my kids to enjoy a story and through the story to understand there own father better and the God that their father is so in love with. I even had this brilliant idea to have Willie (me) ghost-write the story for Mack, and so on my very first Title Page, it said, The Shack, written by Mackenzie Allen Phillips, with William P Young. I thought it was clever and that the kids would get a laugh out of it.
This means that Mack, of course, is not a ‘real’ person. My children would recognize that Mack is mostly me, that Nan is a lot like Kim, my wife, that Missy and Kate and the other characters often resemble our family members and friends. So it was no big deal…until the first version of the loose leaf book sort of ‘got out’ (because people kept passing it to their friends), and I find out that somebody in California and somebody in Canada think seriously about buying plane tickets to come to Oregon to meet and talk to Mack. Now that would have been a little embarrassing, don’t you think? So we removed Mack as the author, but I kept the ghost-writer idea as a story element…which is still causing some problems but not near what could have happened the other way.
Is the story ‘real’? The story is fiction. I made it up. Now, having said that, I will add that the emotional pain with all its intensity and the process that tears into Mack’s heart and soul are very real. I have my ‘shack’, the place I had to go through to find healing. I have my Great Sadness…that is all real. And the conversations are very real and true. While Mack experiences some particulars that I have not (the death of my niece the day after her fifth birthday was a horrible accident, but not a murder), there are depths of pain and shame and hopelessness that I have experienced, that Mack did not. And I know people who have suffered exactly what Mack suffers in the story.
So is the story true? The pain, the loss, the grief, the process, the conversations, the questions, the anger, the longing, the secrets, the lies, the forgiveness…all real, all true. The story in particular… fiction… but…. Then there is God who emerges so very real and true, unexpected and yet not unexpected, but surprising and…
So… is all this real? Is all this true? I suppose each of us has to decide for ourselves, don’t we?