Jan 12, 2008

Four Days To Go

My manuscript is due in four days, and I have nine chapters to revise. I doubt I'll finish it by Tuesday, but I pray my publisher won't fire me if I'm a couple days late. She knows the draft I turn in will not be the final draft. It's close, but I am counting on her excellent feedback and commentary for my next draft. My husband says he's proud of me, going to the desk every day and working so hard. He probably doesn't know that I regularly toggle away from the page to play Snood. But I should also cut myself a break. I'm writing a 65,000 word book.

This past week my agent sent me on four auditions, something I'd normally be thrilled over, especially since one of them was a callback. But each of them took about four hours out of the day. Yesterday's call was for 3:30 pm in Santa Monica, a good 30 miles away. I went 3 hours early, hoping the call was going all day. No such luck. It didn't start until 3:30. I hung out at a local Panera bread, trying to write. By the time I finished the audition and got into my car, it was 4:20pm. I faced the worst traffic possible: Friday afternoon across the LA floor. There was no way out. I got home at 6pm. It took me 100 minutes to go 33 miles. What is that, like 18 miles an hour or something?

The only good thing was I had my iPod. I listened to a podcast from Mars Hill Bible church. Don Miller was talking about story. I highly recommend you go to iTunes podcasts, go to Mars Hill and download this one. Don was talking about story telling and how our lives are like good stories. We need a main character, an ambition, and conflict.

I had been thinking about this same thing since I heard Sir John Polkinghorne, the British particle physicist and theologian who was knighted by the Queen of England for his role in discovering the quark. Sir John said that when mathematicians solve an equation, they call it a 'beautiful.' True math is beautiful. I started wondering then, if true, good art had a mathematics to it?

Certainly Joseph Campbell's work on the Hero's journey discovered a story pattern that was common to most religions and myths. The myth of the hero in his journey from innocence to experience, from immaturity to maturity, from sin to sanctification. God has written this journey on our hearts, I believe. And when we tell that story -- stories that tell that basic truth -- the world resonates and calls it good or beautiful. Think of Rocky, or Children of Men, or Sense and Sensibility, or Star Wars, or Macbeth.

In the two hours I had to listen and re-listen to Don's podcast message, I was reminded that good, compelling stories are hard. They're filled with conflict and trial and near-tragedy. But the hero keeps going. Why should I be surprised that encounter trials in my life, or in writing a book? Don talked about a friend who has a vision to build a thousand water wells in Africa for people who don't have running water! I am a wimp compared to that.

It's time to do hard things. Like finish the book. And it goes to the very heart of my book. "Angry Conversations With God" is a story of how I take God to counseling because he's been such a disappointing spouse. He promised me adventure and purpose and joy, and instead gave me disappointment, failure and loss. But like Robert McKee and Don brought up: good stories have conflict. And the hero doesn't grow without it. I hate that. But we all know it's true.

So I'm off to rewrite nine chapters in four days.

And I should probably delete Snood from my computer while I'm at it.


Lisa Milton said...

I hate to interrupt, because Lord knows you have a lot on your plate, but from a distance, I think you are mighty mighty too.

(I went to Don Miller's story seminar a few months ago. It was fabulous. Between the two of you, I'm feeling the awful, necessary discomfort of knowing I better get on the bandwagon and write a book. Thanks for the nudge. Because I want to suffer too.)

Bryan Allain said...

hey, some guy named Bryan linked to your blog over at Don Miller's fan wesbite. cool!

around the blogs

hey, why are you reading this? get back to work!

Victor said...

I've listened to Donald Miller's Story teaching a number of times. I found it very helpful.

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