A few months ago I began thinking about the question, "What's with Mormons and marriage? Not just temple marriage, but gay marriage and plural marriage and mixed orientation marriage and early marriage and no sex before marriage? Is there another group on earth that fetishizes marriage more than Mormons? I don't think so."
And then I started thinking about the fact that while I've come across several anthologies of essays by Mormon women on motherhood, I've never seen an anthology of essays by Mormon women on marriage.
So I want to put one together. And I am soliciting essays for it.
I want essays by Mormon women who married non-members. I want essays by Mormon women who married in the temple at 18 and are still in love with their husband 30 years later, and still admire him for the way he administers the priesthood. I want essays by Mormon women who elected not to marry in the temple. I want essays by Mormon women who can't get married in the temple to the man they really love because they can't get a temple divorce from their first no-good husband. I want essays by Mormon women in plural marriages. I want essays by Mormon women who lost their faith after their temple marriage. I want essays by Mormon women whose husbands lost their faith after their temple marriage. I want essays by Mormon women who left the church with their husband and think it was the best thing ever for their marriage. I want essays by Mormon women who are married to another woman, Mormon or otherwise. I want essays by Mormon lesbians who married men. I want essays by straight Mormon women who married gay men. I want essays by Mormon women in interracial marriages. I want essays by Mormon women who are the primary breadwinners in the family while the husband stays home. I want essays by Mormon women who, to their chagrin, never married and feel betrayed by Mormon promises of fulfillment through marriage. I want essays by Mormon women who haven't married and don't particularly intend to, for reasons specific to Mormonism or otherwise. I want essays about widowhood. I want essays about divorce. I want essays about Mormon marriage and menopause. I want essays about a magnificent third marriage.
Ultimately, I want essays by Mormon women that challenge and expand our ideas of what marriage is.
Submissions should be personal essays of 500 to 4,000 words that tell a story or stories about an individual woman's marriage. As personal essays, the pieces should include both careful reflection and effective storytelling that draws on techniques also employed in fiction, meaning real events are dramatized through scenes that include detailed narration, realistic dialogue, and vivid character development. I request this type of writing both because it's typically what people find most readable, and because the details help make the marriage seem authentic and easy to visualize. The hope is that when many such essays are assembled, a meaningful portrait of Mormon marriage emerges.
And while I expect that essays about marriages that have produced children will include mention of children, I don't want the children to be the focus. Likewise, while it's quite likely and understandable that your parents' marriage influenced your own, please make sure anything you want to say about your parents is succinct and truly relevant. The focus should be on your own marriage, not the marriage that produced you.
Please provide your spouse's name in your essay--it's pretty necessary that s/he have a name and thus seem like a truly important personage in the essay. If for reasons of privacy you don't want to use your spouse's real name, please make one up.
If you're interested in submitting to this project, or simply want more information, email Holly at mowolito at live dot com. Deadline for submissions is December 1, 2010, but I would be happy to receive completed essays sooner.