- Hardcover: 255 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson Inc; 33265th edition (September 29, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0785213066
- ISBN-13: 978-0785213062
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 908 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Own Life Hardcover – September 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Miller, the accidental memoirist who struck gold with the likable ramble Blue Like Jazz, writes about the challenges inherent in getting unstuck creatively and spiritually. After Jazz sold more than a million copies but his other books didn't follow suit, he had a classic case of writer's block. Two movie producers contacted him about creating a film out of his life, but Miller's initial enthusiasm was dampened when they concluded that his real life needed doctoring lest it be too directionless for the screen. Real stories, he learned, require characters who suffer and overcome. In desultory fashion, Miller sets out to change his own life—to be the kind of guy who seeks out his father, chases the girl and undertakes a quest. Along the way, he comes to understand God as a master storyteller who doesn't quite control where his characters are going. An unexpected bonus of this book is Miller's insights into the writing process. Readers who loved Blue Like Jazz will find here a somewhat more mature Miller, still funny as hell but more concerned about making a difference in the world than in merely commenting on it. (Oct.)
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"No girl who plays the role of a hero dates a guy who uses her."
"But the want wasn't enough. The desire to live a better story didn't motivate me to do anything."
"People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen."
"A general rule in creating stories is that characters don't want to change. They must be forced to change. Nobody wakes up and starts chasing a bad guy or dismantling a bomb unless something forces them to do so."
"Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, and so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort isn't all that comfortable. And even if they secretly want for something better."
"They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen."
"James Scott Bell says an inciting incident is a doorway through which the protagonist cannot return."
"...progress, no matter how slow, is all that matters."
"It's true that while ambition creates fear, it also creates the story. But it's a good trade, because as soon as you point toward a horizon, life no longer feels meaningless. And suddenly there is risk in your story and a question about whether you'll make it."
Regarding Star Wars: "...if I paused the DVD on any frame, I could point toward any major character and say exactly what that person wanted. No character had a vague ambition. It made me wonder if the reasons our lives seem so muddled is because we keep walking into scenes in which we, along with the people around us, have no clear idea what we want."
"Once an ambition has been decided, a positive turn is an event that moves the protagonist closer to the ambition, and a negative turn moves the protagonist away from his ambition. All stories have both. If a story doesn't have negative turns, it's not an interesting story. A protagonist who understands this idea lives a better story. He doesn't give up when he encounters a setback, because he knows that every story has both positive and negative turns."
"Neither (a husband and wife) needed the other to make everything okay. They were simply content to have good company through life's conflicts."
"...when I began thinking about story as a guide for life, I took a lot of comfort in that principle. It wasn't necessary to win for the story to be great, it was only necessary to sacrifice everything."
"A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life."
Donald Miller decides to edit his life (as you would edit your character's life in a book) and the life he used to lead was just a normal life, a life, I am sure most of us can relate to.
He starts with an instant hook:
"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 the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn't tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you'd seen. The truth is, you wouldn't remember that movie a week later, except you'd feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo. But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won't make a life meaningful either."
Who wouldn't want to read further? Isn't this, unfortunatelly, what most people strive towards, obtaining something...material? (whether they admit to it or not)
"In a pure story, there is a purpose in every scene, in every line of dialogue. A movie is going somewhere." - and this gets Donald thinking...where is his life going, where is he, as a character in it, really going?
"A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story." - true...yet, Donald muses, we go through our life trying to avoid conflict, tryng to have it too easy and our lives become meaningless, i.e. we do not live good stories.
"But I also wondered if he wasn't right, that we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. The point of a story is the character arc, the change."
"But I've noticed something. I've never walked out of a meaningless movie thinking all movies are meaningless. I only thought the movie I walked out on was meaningless. I wonder, then, if when people say life is meaningless, what they really mean is their lives are meaningless. I wonder if they've chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and are projecting their dreary life on the rest of us."
This book is full of amazing wisdoms like this and it is entertaining, biographical as well as very philosophical.
It easily made my "favorites" shelf.