Broken-down Poetry: A character who wants something ...


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Sunday, January 17, 2010

A character who wants something ...


PROLOGUE: Late last year RELEVANT Magazine died to me. On vintage episodes of their podcast, the crew joked that washed up actors belonged on a "You're Dead to Me Wall." Now they're on mine.

Around that time I read Don Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life about Don's journey editing his memoir into a film script. In the process he learned what it means to live life as a story -- a story big enough for the big screen.

As this story of mine was dying - my dream of working for RELEVANT Magazine - I started seeing how very small that story was. My dream was to work for a small entertainment magazine. Huh. Not that there's anything wrong with writing for RELEVANT - I still respect its mission, after all - but it's not something worth living for. But that's what I did ... until it died.

It was a long, slow, painful death, starting in January and ending in October. So when the time came for me to put the coffin in the ground, so to speak, I hadn't really planned for life after RELEVANT. What did I want to do with my life? What kind of story did I want to live?

In late October I prayed for a dream to take RELEVANT's place. If the fields must die, something must spring up in its place. This is about that dream.

A CHARACTER: I always play it safe. I don't take risks if I think I'll fail. I've only been rejected by two boys, and both times were done with subtle hints because "Do You Like Me?" is not in my vocabulary.

A typical conversation:
LAUREN: I hate my job! I never want to go back.
JACQUE: Do you just hate your job because you aren't very good at it, and you're used to being good at everything?
LAUREN: Indeed.

A CHARACTER WHO WANTS SOMETHING: That verse in the Bible that says, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" comes with stipulations. For one, God isn't going to give you everything you want. I want Leonardo DiCaprio. I'm not going to get Leonardo DiCaprio.

But God wants us to want.

I mean, he wants us to be content with what we have - that's not the point. He doesn't want us to be greedy or covetous or envious - those are two of the seven deadly sins, after all - but he wants us to desire stuff. Mostly he wants us to desire good stuff.

He wants us to desire things like peace and justice for the people in Darfur. He wants us to desire things like health and comfort for the people in Haiti. He wants us to desire bigger, better stories that change us, that take us on journeys and out of our comfort zones.

And so I prayed. RELEVANT was dead and buried, and finally I was okay. There's something more important than writing about pop culture to a Christian audience.

Perusing Jason Boyett's blog, I came across an organization called Preemptive Love that sells handmade shoes to pay for Iraqi children's heart surgeries (through their for-profit company Buy Shoes. Save Lives.).

About Preemptive Love Coalition There are some things laser-guided missiles cannot solve. There are some things our soldiers cannot solve. And there are some things diplomacy cannot solve. Some things can only be solved by hands-on charity, commerce and creativity. …like thousands of Iraqi children suffering the crippling effects of rampant heart disease. How can munitions or foreign attaches alone secure the essential medical care they need outside Iraq? The Preemptive Love Coalition seeks to eradicate the backlog of Iraqi children waiting in line for life-saving heart surgery. Every Preemptive Love Coalition activity means to say, I was in Radio Production at the time, not paying attention to Prof. Perry, exploring the PLC site. When I read their mission statement I was so, so close to leaving class, running back to the dorm to tell Lindsey about my discovery. Because, ready for this? Best mission statement ever. (See left side of your screen. Or for Facebook readers, look up. Or down. It's hard to say.)

I don't know what I believe about a lot of things, honestly. I don't know if I really believe in once-saved-always-saved theology or what to do about the environment or how involved in politics Christians should be. ... But I know I hate war. I know that Christians are called to love people and not kill them. I know that instead of DESTROYING we should be CREATING. I fell in love with PLC.

After reading more and more about what they do and who they are, I knew that I wanted to intern with them.


Don learned that every story has an "inciting incident" that moves the character from just wanting something passively, to fighting to get it. It's where the conflict is introduced. Jack thinks Rose is pretty, but it takes her dangling off the edge of a ship for him to pursue her.


A CHARACTER WHO WANTS SOMETHING AND OVERCOMES CONFLICT: My mom does not want me in Iraq. Well, duh. I don't think anyone close to me wants me in Iraq.

Every good story has conflict - this is mine. My friends and mentors tell me one of two things: 1.) If I'm supposed to go to Iraq, Mom will magically be okay with it. 2.) I should probably not go to Iraq unless I know God wants me there.

I believe God is big enough to make Mom change her mind. I also believe God is big enough to tell me in plain language that I'm supposed to go to Iraq (or not).

And that's been my prayer - for either of those. But honestly, nothing's that clear. I will say that I feel peace about the internship, which is odd. I'm never at peace about dishonoring my mom. (Mainly because I've never dishonored my mom before.) I'm never at peace about doing something big and scary.


This is where my story pauses. I'm emailing my application in tonight.

God's will is still vague. A feeling of peace is not something to base a huge decision off of, right? Lindsey suggested I fast, so I am. One meal a week. Maybe a little discipline will help me hear him a new way. Maybe. I hope.

Dear friends, I need your prayers. I don't need your advice, though. Ha, I mean this in a respectful way. I've heard all sides of this; I know my options. It's listening time. It's decision-making time.

with love and squalor,


Jason Boyett said...

Lauren: I love the team at PLC. Interning with them would be an awesome experience, and I think (in the end) it's the kind of thing that would make your mom proud.

Lauren said...

Thank you, Jason! (P.S. I totally name-dropped you in my app.)