Completing “The Pursuit of Happiness”

elderly man

On January 9, 2013, responding to a writing prompt from Today’s Author, I composed a piece of microfiction about a modern-day Puritan, Steven Johnson,  who was not happy with his life, but who had settled with what God gave and took away.  His wife, Rachel, had grown tired of trying to make him happy and announced at the breakfast table that she was leaving him for lottery winner Saul Linford.  Steven responds by doing the dishes and playing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” at top volume as Rachel packs.

In the scenes that follow, we meet –

Monica: Stephen’s daughter who wants him to stay with her for awhile.  At first, he protests.

“I really don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Dad!  You’ve been together for over 40 years.  Do you even know where the can opener is?”

He thought about it for a moment.  “I imagine it’s in one of the drawers.  Isn’t it?”

We also meet –

Philip: Monica’s home schooled teenage son.  His Grandpa introduces him to classic country gospel music.  Philip introduces him to “Casting Crowns.”

Robert:  Monica’s positive-thinking husband who sincerely believes faith is a means to a greater end.

Together, the family attends the newly renamed church “Happiness Haven”, with a big statue of a smiling Jesus welcoming worshippers with open arms.

Steven gets hired as a Walmart greeter (or “Happiness Engineeer”) where he has a run-in with a runny-nosed 9-year old who demands a whole roll of stickers.

Steven’s estranged gay son (whom he hasn’t talked to in over 20 years) calls and invites him to come over for a visit.

Monica takes Steven and Philip to an art museum to research some religious works.  While browsing through the gallery, Steven is struck silent staring at a bronze statue of a cowering nude woman.  He collapses to the floor.

Steven wakes up in the hospital emergency room.  They run tests and find no medical reason for his black-out.  Most of his memory has returned, but he does not remember Rachel leaving him…

I’ll leave off the description there, saving a few plot twists and touching scenes for when the book, play and/or movie comes out.

Yes, this morning (January 26, 2013), I have a completed working draft I now plan market this as a short story, a stage script, and a screenplay.

Toward that end, I have made a few contacts –

I e-mailed my former theater professor – Doc Evans – who once told me to write him a play.  Doc is now retired and living in New York City, but he still has a lot of connections in the secular stage and screen world.

I sent a query to a local (Indianapolis) man working in the film industry.

I sent a query to the arts ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian (PCA) in New York City asking for their guidance.

I e-mailed the local chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) to ask for recommended Christian publishers.

This may sound arrogant, but I fully believe God has given me a story that communicates the Good News in ways believers and non-believers would respond to.  I want to be the best steward of this story I can be.  I’m not looking to make a fortune, but I want to reach the most people I can.

If anyone reading this has helpful advice for the “next steps” I need to consider, please contact me in the comments of this post or by e-mail –

(image “Elderly Man” from xavi talleda, some rights reserved)

4 thoughts on “Completing “The Pursuit of Happiness”

  1. Send the query, forget about it, work on something else, send that out. Repeat. I think that’s good advice I read often in various writing magazines. Once it’s out there that’s all you can do really is wait, and I think you go crazy if you don’t kind of forget about it for awhile or just sit waiting by the mailbox and phone.

    Been a long time since I actually sent something out though, so who am I to give advice. 🙂

    Best of luck.

    • Thank you for weighing in with the advice. I think you are right. Before the end of next week, I will identify at least 3 publishers to send queries to (for the short story) and then move on with my writing. As for adapting it into a stage script or screen play, I’m going to have to rely on some help on that and I’ve already e-mailed some people with experience in the business. I just have to realize they are busy and may take time to respond.

      Thanks for the encouraging words.

      • If you’re just looking to get is seen or performed, you could always ask a local theater or college how they choose what they perform and pitch your play to them to see if they are interested.

  2. It’s always exciting to finish a project, so congratulations. Have you thought of trying to submit it to contests? That’s a great way to get your name out there and get some exciting publishing credits for future queries. Try going to Poets and Writers at Under tools for writers they have listings of contests and literary magazines, and maybe you’ll find something interesting. One great feature they have is the ability to sort by sub-genre, so you can try some religious and non-religous publishing agencies and see where you get the best response.

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