And to think it all began with The Church Without Pants

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"I'm Waiting for the Book"

Many of my friends have me heard say "I'm waiting for the book" way too many times.  This cute little phrase usually discharges from my mouth in the context of who among us has seen the new movie yet.  Most of my friends find me so predictable that they’ll say it before I can.  

I’ve written a few short stories about my life. Some of my friends have read them and think they are good enough that they’re bugging me to write more.  My friend the Musk Ox calls me The Blog Camel because I go so long between posts.  I think I’m up to ten months now.  The Musk Ox’s wife is building a baby inside of her.  She’s been working on it for four months now.  That means in five more months it will be ready. She is building a baby in less time than it takes me to write a few paragraphs. Certainly, if she can build a baby in that time I should be able to think of something to write about.

Or is my life that boring and my thoughts just that slow in coming?

Donald Miller, in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (a story about making a movie based on a book of stories about himself) asks, “If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off testing the windshield wipers.”  He also asks, “Who would want to tell their friends about the movie?” and “Who would even remember that movie a week later?”

I can justify a great many things to waste time and money on.  I paid full price to see Cowboys and Aliens.   I spent years recording all the original Star Trek episodes on videotape.   And I own a Fiat – a 40-year-old Fiat. (Need I continue?)

But as boring and predictable as my life sounds, even I might cry if I saw that movie about Volvo Guy.  

Especially if I had to pay for it.  

Anyway, Miller writes this best selling memoir of his years hanging out with a college aged crowd that he hopes to translate into a movie and his screenwriter is going around asking questions like, “What could we do to get people to like Don?” It’s not so much that Don was an unlikeable self-absorbed young adult (well, he was a self-absorbed young adult, but that’s not point here) as it is movie-speak for taking something that reads well and morphing it into something memorable, something watchable.  

It seems to me that Donald Miller, through this process, learns two things. First, he finds he needs to ask himself whether he’s in a good story, a story worth making a movie about.  Is it a good enough story, that if I put down the book the I’ve been waiting for to watch the movie, will I actually stick with the movie? Or, when I see the life behind it, I’m going put down that book I’d been waiting for and actually go see the movie?

I think it’s a good question to ask of oneself.  Some of my friends think my life is readable.  But is it watchable?

Sometimes I feel like I’m just the Volvo Guy.  I’m Volvo Guy with a Fiat.  It’s a barely readable life (although I do take some solace in that as far as watchability goes, Volvo Guy with a Fiat has to be immensely more watchable than simply the Volvo Guy story.)  

I probably need to give some thought to what it would take to morph my life into something watchable.

I think the second thing Don learns is that for his story to be watchable he needs a pretty female lead. In Don’s case they chose Claire Holt to play Penny.

At least I have the pretty female lead.

Who knows, there may yet be a reason to light up the projector.

But first, who’s up a for an 81 episode Star Trek marathon on the old Betamax?

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