It’s been an incredible first year of website curation here at byPeterFenton.com! I started designing it in January 2019, and sat on it until mid-February when I launched following the formal publication of Knights of the Square Table and The Thousand-Year Rose from Heuer Publishing. From February-June, I blogged nearly once every other week and then from end of August-early November I ramped up my blogging to nearly once a week.
Yesterday, I put out a survey requesting feedback and input from my audience regarding what I did well in 2019 and what you would like to see in 2020 — please fill it out if my writing has touched you in any way this past year! I will be holding myself to that 2020 date, as I plan to put the blog at byPeterfenton.com on temporary hiatus until the new year. I want to sit with the responses my audience gives me and have a solid plan for what it is I’m doing in the new year. Perhaps more importantly, I have a large project that I need to dedicate all writing energy toward at the present moment. I’ll keep up my normal presences on social media, but I will not be writing any new posts on the blog from now until January 13th, 2020 (the arbitrary Monday morning I will release my first new blog post of the decade).
In case you were wondering, here were some personal favorite highlights from the blog in 2019. I think my single favorite entry in its entirety is my post on Male Privilege, but it was difficult in its entirety to grab an excerpt from it. Here are the assorted other highlights:
On Someday Fatherhood, “I’m a Little Name Crazy - Part 1”:
While I’m not completely sure if I even want kids, I have a list of about five male names and five female names I’m not planning to use in a central/principal character in any of the stories I write with mine as the only name attached to the project – so I have this list of “names I really like that I could use for a child someday” that I am choosing to hold until [insert name of hypothetical future spouse here] and I decide we’re not having any more children (which that number still could very well be zero).
When I put myself in the shoes of “son or daughter of Peter Fenton” (or less specifically, the child of an author), I can imagine it could be rather frustrating if in your own house, your name immediately drew a comparison to a character they’ve written – good or bad. It’s maybe not the worst thing you could do to your kid. The worst thing you could probably do is take the name of your already-existing child and give it to the name of the protagonist in your series of child-rearing books wherein the protagonist is an idealized version of your very real and very impressionable human child which leads them to psychotically compare themselves to this character for the rest of their lives – I learned some wonderful parenting lessons when I read Gone Girl!
On Being Misunderstood, “Death of the Author”:
I wrote back and said I was happy to have them read my plays and that my faith informs my writing. The potential client wrote back and said they were happy to see a faithful Christian was writing family-friendly theatre that didn’t include swearing, substance use, “some sort of LGBTQ stuff”, or other things that are so against the word of God.
So let’s unpack that for a moment. This person saw that my play premiered at Wheaton College, saw my headshot, heard that my faith informs my writing, liked what they read so far, and then concluded that we agree on a lot of theological positions. I was so puzzled as to how they could’ve gotten me that wrong, but it’s actually not that hard. In the words on the pages themselves, I have not written profanity, overt substance use (Princess Jacqueline’s love potion is not-so-subtly analogous to date rape), or definitively LGBTQ characters (if the Snowman is male in See Amid, he’s definitely gay and is dating certified North Pole sex symbol Schyler Hines) across the first three plays. Certainly knowing that I was raised in Christian tradition helps make sense of the conclusions my protagonists come to, but I’ve come to realize “Christian” doesn’t quite always mean the same thing.
If I were to label my beliefs as they stand right now, I consider myself something of an ex-evangelical Christian trying to throw out the bathwater of my former belief system and keep the baby Jesus of what was good. I love the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection and the narrative of an all-knowing, all-loving God whose image every single human bears in full. I believe the church is extremely well-intentioned but quite flawed – as humanity is extremely well-intentioned but quite flawed. If you know those things about me, the intended meanings behind each of my plays become clearer.
On Non-Affirming Theology, “Ripping the Band-Aid Off”:
I want you to understand it’s impossible for me to remain emotionless when hearing people talk about ‘the issue of homosexuality’ in the church because, like I said: I’m a person. I’m not an issue. Issues don’t have feelings or live lives or have a story that differs from the one you tell. People do.
On the underlying philosophy of The Thousand-Year Rose, “Evil is a Choice”:
I wrote The Thousand-Year Rose as a rallying cry for understanding that being pure of heart looks different on each person (because we’re all different) — and there’s no person who is fully incapable of being good. I believe goodness to simply start with seeing the humanity in others. That’s not going to look the same coming from everybody, but that’s kind of the point. We’re not beholden to if/then stereotypes regarding the kinds of people we are — if you can value the inherent humanity of the people around you, I believe you have the makings of being a good person. Full stop. It could not matter less whether or not you’re a witch.
I’m proud of the story I told in The Thousand-Year Rose. That’s why it’s special to me. I’m ecstatic that it’s been published via Heuer Publishing this year and I can’t wait to see another school or community theatre group take it on (or an equity production, but I don’t expect that to happen anytime in this universe unless Peter Fenton becomes a Household NameTM). I try to practice the underlying philosophy I preach in the script, but it’s not easy and I’d never pretend it is. But it’s always worth a try. I’ve never once regretted treating another person like a person.
And with that — I’m off to work on my project. The first post of the new year will come, as I said, on January 13th, 2020. Until then — I mean, I’ll see ya around. Keep up with me on Twitter or Instagram @peterfent, or better yet, if you know me in real life — shoot me a text. Let’s get a beer. Happy Holidays!