Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thoughts on A Million Miles in a Thousand Years - Part One

I recently picked up Donald Miller's new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I hesitated to read it. I enjoyed Blue Like Jazz, but I feared reading his book was going to make me feel like some kind of "hipster Christian." I finished some work I was doing, so I picked it up and finished it 24 hours later. I really enjoyed it and it made me think about my life and what I am doing with it. What kind of story am I writing with my life? Will it be worth retelling?

That is where Miller starts with "Part One: Exposition". He imagines us sitting down with God and trying to remember our lives. We'll sit down and tell God the favorite parts of the story he gave us. And that is what God wants from us, to live inside a body he made and enjoy the story and bond with us through the experience.
But not all of the scenes are pleasant, and we aren't sure what God means with the hard things. But we will see what role they play in the story as Miller progresses.

Miller tells the story of a filmmaker wanting to make a movie out of his memoir Blue Like Jazz. But the problem is, Blue Like Jazz is more like a memoir and a collection of thoughts and not really a story. It needs a plot. It needs a story line. Part of the book, A Million Miles is trying to find the right story line to make Blue Like Jazz into a good movie. A good movie goes somewhere. They needed to take the basic events of his life and shape them around a structure that makes sense. Stories have to obey certain principles to make sense. Sadly, most of our lives do not obey these principles and make little sense.

Miller realizes that he can create the kind of person he has always wanted to be. A person worth telling stories about. He goes to a seminar by Robert McKee (an expert on creating compelling stories). He learns that good stories don't happen by accident, they are planned. The highlight of Part One is that he discovers that "A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it."

Oftentimes, in order to create a more meaningful life, we need to live a better story.

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