Lino Fan Fiction: Writing holiness

Welcome to another edition of Lino Fiction. Since none of us will be around to see Lino writing his memoirs (or hear about them on the radio), here is a fictionalized account of what it might seem like when Lino creates a best-selling novel (I know I'm buying a copy as soon as it comes out). Keep in mind that this isn't real, just my imagination and fingers running wild on a keyboard in my future mother-in-laws attic, and that some liberties were taken with real-life people.
Below is part one. Part two will be available on Dec. 30. sometime this weekend when dustin's writer's block is cured.


he Foo Fighers music blared, with the scruffy voice of Dave Grohl filling millions of radios tuned in to hear Catholic Pleasure. Before Dave could belt out another word, a fatigued yet jolly 39-year-old Italian took over for the Foos.
"Well, we've come to the end of another show. Two hours and 53 minutes of great radio, except for the breaks our bosses make us take," Lino Rulli said, eyeing his packed bags in the corner and secretly wishing it was the end of hour two instead. The end of hour three meant a trip to upstate Minneapolis, a monastery far from any working television set, and writing an autobiography he had secretly loathed since it was thrust upon him by the expectations of everyone he cared about.
The end of the show meant an end to Lino's sanity. His coworkers, producer Maureen McMurray and assistant producer Lou Ruggieri (both in their late 20s), could sense some of Lino's sickness over such an ordeal, but seemed to relish the opportunity to laugh at his expense the way he had done countless times to them.
"Now I'm off to Minneapolis to write this stupid book," Lino said. "I don't even know what I'm going to write about in this stupid thing. It was a dark and stormy night..." Lino trailed sarcastically.
"And I was alone on my couch drinking," Lou said in a dry, melodramatic tone. The kind of tone you'd hear when the 5 a.m. news anchor reported a dead cow on route four.
"Which night Lino? Be a little more specific," Maureen shot back. Both Lou and Maureen didn't have dark days in Minnesota in store for their holidays. Maureen had plans galore with her husband Danny, a newspaper editor and rock musician by night. Lou, on the other hand, would spend his Christmas with his biggest worry being how to tell his girlfriend that he planned to grow a moustache.
Neither of them would face the cold, dark literary Hell that Lino was facing.
"Everybody just calm down," Lino said. "I'll write something good. If I can do three hours of pure Catholic pleasure on the radio each day, I can write a book.
"Anybody can write a book. Have you seen the kind of esteemed Catholic literature that gets printed up day after day? Nooooobody cares,"
"You have books printed day after day?" Lou asked.
"Shut up Lou, of course it will be different," Lino replied with a lightly annoyed but hesitant voice. He would have been more annoyed, but deep down he knew that Lou knew this book would be successful.
It had to be.
"It's going to be different because it's not going to be all high-and-mighty," Lino said. "It's not going to have 100 pages describing how Jesus has made every single problem of mine disappear. I hear people who say that, and they're frauds. If you think the Christian faith is super easy, well, I think you need to reevaluate what you think following Christ truly is. Maybe if people could read about how someone just like them struggles with day-to-day faith, they'll enjoy the book."
"And if they don't?" Lou asked.
"If they don't, well they'll have a nice coaster Lou. Something they could put an Olde English on top of, with my photo staring at them while they enjoy a life that's obviously better than mine."
But still, as Lino finished the show, he couldn't let go of that nagging thought. If this is what God truly wanted him to do, write a book about his life, why did God allow him to feel so much angst?
"So here is where you'll be staying," Brother Marcos said, leading a gassed Lino into his room, the afternoon Minnesota sun shining through the hallway windows. He was staying at Saint Edward's Abbey, outside of sleepy New Munich, Minnesota. It was a Monday afternoon, two days removed from Christmas with his mom, dad, and other assorted family members. The drive was pleasant enough, although Lino cursed himself for trying to be holier than God and spending three hours listening to AM religious radio.
Lino chose the Abbey because, no matter how hard he tried otherwise, he only felt like he could get close to God in a place where others had a track record of getting close to God. He knew that if he wanted to find inspiration from God, he couldn't write the book in his home or in an hotel. He needed the kind of holy silence that only a monastery could give him. And after a weekend with his family, he could use all the holy silence he could find.
Brother Marcos, a short round man with a head full of skin and a laugh lacking a certain jolliness, pointed Lino to a small room. It was no bigger than a freshman dorm. A bed, a lamp and a desk, with non-chalant white walls and bed sheets, were all that filled it. You could walk across the room in three large steps if you wanted.
"I hope you find the space accomodating," Brother Marcos told him. "Feel free to listen to your radio if you want. We eat at seven, noon and six, feel free to join us if you'd like." Brother Marcos smiled at him. He was inspired that this young man wanted to spend his holiday in an Abbey. It didn't feel like Saint Edwards got a lot of visitors throughout the year, so any time someone wanted to stay and grow closer to God, Marcos made sure that they felt as welcome as possible.
As Brother Marcos started to walk away, Lino stopped him.
"Brother Marcos," Lino began. He always felt slightly embarrassed asking others for spiritual advice. He felt like he should already know the answers, and that not knowing was somehow a sin, like his lack of knowledge was a sign of spiritual sloth. "If you were going to write a book about your spiritual life, what would you focus on?"
Brother Marcos smiled. "Think of the ways God blessed you. Then tell everyone what you did to get those blessings."
'That seemed odd,' Lino thought as Brother Marcos walked away. Lino thought the advice seemed a little egotistical. Like he would be bragging about every wonderful thing God did for him.
Lino closed the door and stretched out on his bed. He needed to produce 60,000 words, and at last count he had written about 12,000, mostly about early childhood and some funny stories about Goob, his crazy friend from college who made a career of doing the dumbest things, like setting his pants on fire inside of a shopping mall.
Lino had one week to produce 48,000 words. That was about 7,000 words a day. 875 words an hour for eight solid hours. 14.5 words per minute.
The amount of work staring Lino in the face was too daunting for a man who just drove three hours listening to boring AM radio. Lino stared up at the wall, with visions of success and failure running through his head at the same time. His brain had turned against him, it felt, doing everything possible to keep him from being the success he thought God wanted him to be.
Lino rolled over. Writing could wait for a few hours, he reasoned, as he fell asleep, taking advantage of that rare weekday afternoon nap.
Little did he know that the nap wouldn't be the last rare thing that happened to him at the Monastery.

Check back here on Dec. 30 for part two.

This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.