If I can write the story of my life, what kinda story will that be? What attributes will my character have? What will my mission/ goal/ dream be? What obstacles will I have to overcome to make it a reality? Which other characters will inhabit my story?
All the above questions flocked my mind as I read the book, “A million miles in a thousand years” by Donald Miller. I read this as part of my book club and enjoyed and mulled over it quite a bit. It is all about the parallelism between life and a story and how we can make our lives better by learning what makes a story compelling.
Donald Miller’s memoir, “Blue Like Jazz” is about to be made into a movie. On the journey of turning the book into a format fit for the big screen, the writer discovers what makes a story great.
Reading a book and watching a movie are 2 entirely different things. While sensory details need to be explained in a book, they can simply be shown in a movie. An audience that watches a movie needs action: It should be made known at the beginning who the central character is, what his motives are and what needs to be fought against, for him to be a victor. The audience must care enough about the central character to stay glued to the screen.
But the author is a writer, spending most of his time writing. He is a couch potato and he has trouble keeping relationships intact. (That makes me wonder why his life had to be made into a movie in the first place. Maybe it has something to do with the memoir. Never read it, so I’m not sure why.) His life, like most lives, isn’t interesting enough as is. So the Director along with the writer rewrite his story to make it captivating to a movie audience. To his embarrassment, they set about creating a different version of him for screen, a version who is after something, a version that makes for a powerful story.
As he writes about this other version for the movie, he realizes he’s writing a story he himself wishes to live. So he sets about living the life he’s dreamt of but never had the courage or the motivation to begin. He gets off his couch and starts saying ‘yes’ to new experiences. He hikes the Inca trail to Machu Pichu. He wins over the girl he’s liked for a long time. He bikes across America. He finds his dad whom he hadn’t seen in years. He writes an epic for himself. He doesn’t wish to go back to the idle, dull, depressing life he left in pursuit of a better story.
I am not after creating an epic. I don’t want to be famous.I don’t wish to make big bucks. I want to live a simple story. Actually, I’m already almost living my simple story: I read. I write. I learn. I watch my kids grow up. My husband and I travel. I record the memories we make. I talk/write to people close to my heart. This is my story, and I don’t want to live any other way. I begin each morning with a question : How can I make this blessed day even better?
But there’s one thing, a big thing, a thing even the writer, Donald Miller guarantees makes a story great, that’s missing from my story. I’m sure my story will be a worthy read once I find this thing. And that thing is a cause to believe in. Some call it ‘charity’, but I surely wont, because I’m sure when I find this ‘thing’ I’ll receive so much more in return than what I ‘give’; I’ll have a reason to wake up on those mornings when I see no point in living a good story. I know I HAVE to write a good story, not just for myself, but for my loved ones and for those who need love and care.
I leave you with a question to ponder and act upon…
“Why are you holding back? What is stopping you from living the life you’ve imagined for yourself? What’s the worst thing that could happen if you decided to wholeheartedly commit yourself to achieving your goals?”
– Logan Marshall of “The Free Life Project”