Monday, September 28, 2009

The Trees in the Forest

We're settling in: we've found most of our underwear, acquired internet access and groceries, and THAT DOG is in a standing feud with the pigeons on our next door neighbors' roof, daring them to land on our windowsill one more time. So far, it's the start of a good life :)

I'm reading Donald Miller's long-awaited new book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life, where he talks about thinking of our lives in terms of story: are we living a good story or a bad one? Are our lives dull, or filled with fake drama, or stuck in some other predictable rut that keeps us from really living? It's making me laugh and think at the same time (no small feat; I'm not really a multitasker...)

I've been blessed with enough wild ups and downs in my life that I've rarely been bored or felt like things weren't interesting. But I'm not always sure what to make of what happens--it's only in hindsight that I can see how things have fallen together to propel me towards something (or away from others). In the meantime, I just try to notice what's going on.

Reading this book reminded me of a conversation I had with my editor as we worked on my first book, as we considered a chapter about why I quit my career in law. It was a longish tale that included a partner in another firm jumping from his 37th floor office window, two associates running away in the night and stealing a bunch of clients, and even a murder-suicide. "It's quite a story," my editor said. "But it has nothing to do with you finding the right guy, or the right God." She was right, and we pulled the chapter. I thought it might fit into my second book, but it didn't make the cut there, either. But someday, somewhere, the story will fit perfectly and I'll be glad I waited, and glad I wrote it all down.

I'm working on a novel now, and slightly overwhelmed by the task of creating lives for characters, rather than just recording my thoughts on how real life events unfolded and what happened as a result. It's a huge responsibility, creating people and lives and actions that have consequences no one imagined or intended! I'll confess that I'm cowed by the magnitude of it. But still, I'll write ten pages of SOMETHING, knowing that it may end up in this book or it might get filed away for another project. One thing I've learned about writing is that if you get an idea down on paper, it becomes part of your story you can go back to at any time.

Before The Enormous Debacle (which I will hereinafter refer to as "TED") and our resultant move, I was thinking a lot about how in the arts, discipline gives us freedom. Hard work produces options and flexibility later on down the line. I want that. So today, I'm going after it. Not just saying, "Hey, I saw this forest!" but doing the hard work of remembering and writing out each important tree.

How are you feeling about your story today?


Stacy S. Jensen said...

I'm feeling good about my story. It just keeps unfolding!

Sounds like you could use some of the characters in that pulled chapter in your novel. Some people you just can't make up. I'll have to check out Donald Miller's book. Sounds very interesting. Good luck with the novel.

Krissy said...

In the middle of Donald Miller's book myself... and loving it. Lots of food for thought. Glad you're settling in.

LEstes65 said...

Feeling oddly excited. I say "oddly" because everyone expects me to be anxiety stricken and fear filled as a single unemployed mom. Hardly. This is just a stop along the train ride. And I can't wait to see where I go!

Mary said...

As a side reference, have you read Twyla Tharp's _The Creative Habit_ yet? I'm enjoying it, and it talks a bit about the role of discipline in creativity. It's illuminating...

(And it's good to have you back, Trish. :) )

essay writing said...

A Million Miles In A Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life, is an interesting book I love reading it again and again , please do read it.