Tag: stories

LDS Storymakers 2014 Day 2

So day 2 has come and gone at the LDS Storymakers conference and it perhaps wasn’t as memorable as yesterday but still great.

Started the day tired but with a lot of enthusiasium.
Started the day tired but with a lot of enthusiasm.

The first class was on Prepping for Nanowrimo- by John Waverly and Danyelle Ferguson.

They had some cute ideas and were an adorable couple.  A lot of it the advice was more tailored to a family but I just liked seeing them interact.

They went over the different styles- planning vs pantsers and how to deal with Thanksgiving which is helpful.  I’m really excited about my idea for this next Nanowrimo.  It’s going to be called:

How to be Alone- isn’t that a good title?  At least I’d be intrigued.

I liked that he said ‘give yourself permission to stink. Point of Nanowrimo is not to publish but to write.  Get it on the page’.  Love that.

Writing Great Short Stories-  by Angie Lofthouse

To be honest the class I wanted to go to was full so I went to this and it wasn’t bad.  A little dry but  fine.  She talked abotu what a short stories was and how the action had to start right away.

  1. Never begin your short story with backstory (begin with the action)
  2. Don’t start before the beginning of the story. Start with inciting incidents.
  3. Don’t use someone else’s world and characters
  4. Don’t worry about length of story when writing first draft

A lot of the classes I took today were more technical in nature and I think I enjoy the lighter one’s like the class on Jane Austen.  Next year I’m going to take more of those kind of classes.

Gesture Crutches- by Jordan McCollum

Jordan seems super cute and information was helpful but honestly I struggled to stay awake and my computer died half way through so I don’t have a ton of notes.

Basically if we use too many of the same adjectives and verbs to describe our characters it gets old quick.

Words to use when needed but not in excess

Nod, head shake, smile, eyebrows, shrug, eyes narrow, widen, light up and gaze

Basically avoid cliches and using the same words too much.

Next was lunch and it was blah, very disorganized by the hotel staff.  The food was not great at this event.

The rest of the conference was a lecture by

Crafting Character Arcs- Brandon Sanderson

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It was probably the best lecture of the conference and it lasted 2 hours but the time flew by.

It’s kind of funny because way back in 2005 I knew Brandon.  He was roommates with a bunch of my friends and we would go over there to watch Lost every week.

At the time he was getting ready to release his first book Elantris and he asked me to read it, so I did.  I’m normally not much into fantasy but I enjoyed.  If only I’d known I’d have gotten it autographed. 🙂

Anyway, Lost connection aside his lecture was great.  I think he did what everyone was hoping OSC would do yesterday.  He talked about characters needing:

1. Proactive- character makes choices

2. Competent- character is good at something

3. Sympathetic- has flaws and consequences we feel some sympathy for

Sometimes it is very little of one trait or the other but almost always some of each.

He also said “you want someone to be able to pick up your book, read a page, and be able to tell something about your character”

The last half of the lecture he did a Q and A and a lot of great advice about when to move on from a project, when to kill of a darling passage or scene, outlining vs starting raw, and how many projects to start at once.

He said “My biggest weakness was my unwillingness to revise. Had to learn in order to make characters alive give characters veto power over the outline”

I really liked how he talked about the promises you make your reader:

“Ask yourself how do I remain consistent to the promises I’ve made my readers so that my ending is fulfilling not out of nowhere?”  (Couldn’t help but think of How I Met Your Mother on that one…sigh)

Key to keeping promises is defining what they are along the way.

There was a lot more information but that was some of the highlights.  He is very engaging and funny so if you ever get a chance to hear him speak or lecture I’d recommend it.

Then we finished up with closing remarks and I had tickets to the banquet tonight but my back was hurting and as I hadn’t read any of the nominees this year I didn’t think the awards would be very much fun.  Instead I went to my hotel room, ordered room service and relaxed.  Tomorrow I think I will go for a swim and then head out.

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My friend Emilee is in my writing group and we had a good time hanging out and getting to know each other better. It was nice to know someone at the conference.
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Relaxed and absorbing all I learned!
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Got to live it up every now and then!

Perfect weekend! It inspired me to take a look at my nanowrimo projects and try to make them better and to work harder on this blog. I focused a lot on storytelling and hopefully you will see that in this blog.  Hopefully you will see some improvement in my writing.  That’s the goal at least.

Thanks for reading and thank you to all who worked hard to make the conference a success.  I look forward to next year!

 

 

LDS Storymakers 2014 Day 1

Day 1 of my little pied-à-terre has come to an end.  What a day!

It started very early for me driving up to Layton, a city I don’t believe I have ever spent a day in in all the years I’ve lived in Utah.

It’s hard for me to get started in the morning with my insomnia issues but I made it out the door and to the convention center in time for the first lecture.

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Lecture 1- Creating Compelling Villains by Stephanie Black.

I went to this class thinking of my first nanowrimo book that has a Miranda Priestly type villain (Devil Wears Prada) .

I think I was probably the only one there not writing young adult fiction (I bet 2/3rds of attendees are writing YA, yawn)

Nevertheless, I took some good notes and enjoyed it.

Lecture 2- Show Don’t Tell- the Macro and Micro Way by Annette Lyon

This was very helpful and something I’ve been working on.  I’m trying to not just say I’m excited but show how the excitement looked.

Lunch- Honestly the food was not great.  Who makes a ham sandwich with no lettuce?  But my friend from my little writing group was there and I had fun visiting with her and the other attendees

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Lecture 3- Giving and Receiving Feedback by Rosalyn Eves

Very helpful class as I can be a bit prideful when it comes to my writing and hearing feedback.  I’ve gotten better each year but some things are harder to hear than others.

I learned the difference between directive (blank praise or criticism) and facilitating comments (Tells you problem but also some ideas to fix it).  Some good strategies to provide both types of comments.

Lecture 4- How to Read like a Writer by Luisa Perkins

This teacher reminded me of my Mom.  I think they would get along quite well.  She talked about reading the books that change your life not settling for the candy.

Love this quote “If you do not read good books you have no advantage over the people who cannot read them” Mark Twain

Her words reminded me of a symposium I went to a few years ago where the teacher kept saying ‘at least the kids are reading’, but reading candy books.

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/01/18/writing-and-reading-for-children-and-teens/

I disagreed then and I disagree now.  We have a responsibility to at least try to elevate the level of reading for all around us and only then can we say ‘at least they are reading’.

The other interesting thing she mentioned is that she doesn’t have time for candy books because if she lives to 90 she has about 3500 books left to read in her lifetime.

This made me think.  If I live to be as old as my grandpa (84) and I read 35 books a year (I have goal for 1 non-fiction and 1 fiction each month but I think it is usually around 35).

So 35 books 51 years left= 1785 books left.

Isn’t that kind of nuts?  We ended the class with her saying ‘better make them count!’.

Lecture 5- Dissecting Jane by Sarah Eden

This was such a fun class.  We went through all the Jane Austen heroines and stories, dissecting why they have stood the test of time.  Why do they work?

Some reasons we discussed is how she allowed her characters to have real strengths and weaknesses and those traits had consequences.

Her characters also had choices that moves the stories along.  Always something likable or relatable about the characters.

She wrote about things she knew and was passionate about.

Lecture 6- Mormonism and Steampunk

This was definitely the most creative lecture but I enjoyed it.  Jules Verne, Conan Doyle both had Mormonism (although not always the most flatteringly) in their stories and they have influenced the movement.

It is set in neo-Victorian era and that is when the Mormon church started. He had some entertaining slides about the similarities even down to crafts

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Then we had dinner and it really wasn’t very good.  Tough meat, bland sauces, not enough food and apple pie with a strawberry on top?

Still, it’s food.  What are you going to do?

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My face after the keynote

Then we had the keynote and it was…different.  Orson Scott Card was the speaker and a lot of people were very excited.  I’ve read Enders Game and Sariah and enjoyed them but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan.

Sadly most left disappointed.  He rambled, was admittedly unprepared and some statements were baffling.  He kept making very broad generalizations about the church, saying boy scouts was the church’s attempt to get boys to stop learning and that basketball replaced books for young men.

He said that the church had no use for academics and that any intellectuals were relegated to putting away chairs.  He also talked about swearing, defecating, phallic symbols in awards, and stake presidents were often idiots. He also clearly hates the movie made of his book (and any covers) and has strong feelings about The Hunger Games.

Anyway, it was a bit of a bummer but he did say that being a Mormon was more important than anything else and that a dedication to family is all that really matters in life.  No writing will make up for that, so I’m trying to take that away from it.

At the very least he should know his audience.  It doesn’t make much sense to speak to a room of 643 LDS intellectuals about how the church doesn’t treat intellectuals very well.  He should have just stuck to writing.  He oddly didn’t talk about that all that much.  Sigh…My teacher for the Jane Austen class evidently walked out.  I have pretty thick skin so was able to glean something from it and not let it spoil the day, but I feel bad for his fans. One tweeted ‘never meet your heroes…’

I did enjoy tweeting during it (it was long and honestly I got bored and my back hurt).  Probably my best line of the night was:

best tweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bechdel Test

Have you guys heard of the Bechdel test?  Evidently it’s been around for ages, but I just heard of it yesterday (what kind of feminist am I?).  It’s pretty interesting stuff.   The idea is to find a scene in a movie where two female characters talk about something other than men.   Even when you make it a 60 second minimum there are still so many that fail the test.

The feminist frequency explains it pretty well:

It seems almost hard to believe this could be the case.  How could so many movies not have one conversation with two women not about men?  And yet I now think about it and there amazingly few that past the test.  I’m trying to think about recent movies.  I’m particularly thinking about Frozen. It passes the test! There are conversations as children not about men and then about saving the town from the winter in the castle, the ending isn’t about a man.  Now I like it even more.

How did we do in 2013?

http://tribecafilm.com/stories/10-films-that-passed-the-bechdel-test-2013

There is also the interesting idea of the smurfette principle.  Basically the token woman (ie Princess Leia) amongst a troop of men.

This is not necessarily saying the movies that fail the bechdel test are bad.  Pixar movies all fail the test except for maybe Brave.  Will have to think about that one.

As she says good movies fail the test and bad movies pass the test so it isn’t a test of quality merely presence of women in stories.

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting and wanted to share it with all of you.  What do you think? Is it too much to hope for or is the test not accurate or silly?

Why Stories Matter

storytellingI’ve been thinking this week about stories.  Why are stories so important in our life?  Why do they matter?  And why do some stories create such an impact on me and do nothing or the reverse for others?  Why do we care so much about these stories?

Of course what made me ponder on the topic was my disappointment at the end of the story for How I Met Your Mother.  A story I had invested 9 years on and did not end the way I wanted it to.  It is after all just a TV show.  What’s the big deal?

Well let me tell you a story and maybe it will make a little more sense why it was such a big deal.  After my mission I got a job working in a cubicle, entering data and printing checks.  It was supposed to be a temporary position till I could find something else but a year stretched into two and then I started school so two became three.

I wanted to quit everyday, and I knew that God wanted me to quit, but I lacked the courage.  The courage to dive off into an unknown while going to school.  At least the horrible job was something and the unknown could be even worse?

I was scared and fear is an evil little sucker.  I was also unhappy but I saw no break in the unhappiness if I quit.  It seemed like I should be happy.  Other people were unemployed and had no job so what was my problem? Why couldn’t I feel happiness any more?

I did have a manager who was extremely manipulative and treated me like a bug that needed to be squished, but even if she would have been a saint, I would have been unhappy.  I usually am when I am scared and not doing what God wants me to do.

So I kept going, and going, and the anger and resentment built up inside me until I was scared I would explode.  Finally, one day in Feb 2007 I kind of did.  I grabbed my purse and I ran out of the office.  Then I called my head boss and let it all out.

I proceeded to then have my first panic attack.  I felt like I would lose control and all those feelings would come out and I would embarrass myself.  I couldn’t breathe or speak and for a second I wondered if I was going to die.  It was awful. One of the worst days of my life.

The next Monday at the office things were awkward but I made it through and things started to be better.  I had a new manager, less assignments, hours and even a desk by the window.  I made it through the summer and yet the nagging feeling of unhappiness didn’t leave me.  It was less a boiling point and more of a steady simmer.  It still wasn’t what God wanted me to do and I was still afraid to take the leap.

Finally in September, I made the decision- I quit.  I gave my notice and helped them train a new person and December 21, 2007 I walked out of the office with a box of desk nicknacks and shouted in the air ‘I did it!’.  I had quit my job.  I was diving into the unknown and looking for work in 2008.  Only crazy people quit their jobs in 2008, but I did and it was one of the best days of my life.  I knew it was right.  I knew for sure.

That day my friends and I went and celebrated my freedom at Bucca di Beppo’s and a weekend at the Marriott in SLC.  This isn’t the greatest picture but it is one of my greatest memories.

bucca

But you know what happened after I took this great leap?  It took me 6 months of interviews before I found a job, and even then it was only because of the mercy of my Dad letting me manage his properties I found anything.  I knew I had done the right thing but it was scary nonetheless.  God does not always iron out all the wrinkles when he gives you a new shirt to wear. At the end of 2008 I said on this very blog (I started the blog in May 2008):

“It has been a year of healing and growth, and I am immeasurably stronger as a result.  It all started last December with my taking the big leap of faith and quitting my job.  I knew I needed  a change and that the Lord wanted me to be doing something else, so I left everything in His hands.

Not knowing where life was taking me I entered the job hunt- interviewing for nearly 40 companies over 6 months.   There were so many jobs that I thought for sure I would get and then I wouldn’t.  The Lord definitely made me wait and show my faith before helping everything to work out.”

So, you perhaps can understand why it was so meaningful mere weeks after quitting that I saw this:

Someone got it.  Someone understood my story.  That’s why I stuck around for 9 years.  That’s why it meant so much to me.  It was the story and just like my story ended well, I wanted to see Marshall and the gang’s end well.  I’ll get over it.  I promise.

We all have our stories, and they all matter.  Stories matter.

Feminism and Fairy Tales

Disney Female Villains
Disney Female Villains

 

This morning I slept in until about 11:30 and feel greatly improved.  Enough so that I found myself looking over old blog entries and making them better.  I often am amazed at the mistakes I make after having reviewed my writing several times before posting.  Sigh…

Anyway, I found myself reading an old post I had done on the children’s author Roald Dahl.  In the post I wrote about rereading Roald Dahl books and how the depiction of women was kind of disturbing.  Whether it be the aunts in James and the Giant Peach or the Trunchbill in Matilda most of his books have a beastly villainous women at the center.

As I was thinking about the post I started to ponder about other stories.  Snow White? Evil Queen.  Cinderella?  Wicked Stepmother. Sleeping Beauty? Maleficent.  Little Mermaid?  Ursula.  Wizard of Oz? Wicked Witch.  Rapunzel? Gothel.  I could go on…

Isn’t that strange?  Why do you think that is?  It’s especially weird when you think that men have been the more dominating force over the years.  The devil is almost always thought of as a man and yet his minions are sultry temptresses or women.   A man would seem the more natural choice for a villain in previous eras because they had all the power and control.  Strange?

I was talking about this with my sister and she suggested that these characters are almost always middle aged childless women. “Supposedly it is because childress women past their child rearing age were considered a societal threat”.   Lonely figures have always been viewed as isolated by choice, scary, and backward especially by children.   When I first lived alone you wouldn’t believe the number of people who were horrified by the idea, even today.  They expressed concern and amazement that I could do such a thing and be happy.

You look at the idea of the old maid or the crazy lady with all the cats that still persist today.  I’ve known girls who have refused to get a cat because they don’t want to be that kind of single woman.  One dating advice column I read recently said to girls “Owning More Than One Cat Does Not Mean You Will Die An Old Maid”  .  Perhaps the refusal (or bad luck) of these middle-aged childless women to conform to social norms made them scary and ripe for fairy tale lore?  What do you think?

My other theory is since we all start life in a female, and hopefully being loved by a mother, there is nothing scarier than a woman gone wrong.   Its like it takes the maternal instinct and twists it to its evil side.  Almost all of the fairy tales with female villains have a female heroine as well.  These innocents are young, hopeful and beautiful (fairest in the land…).   Ever since I took feminist classes in college I’ve struggled with the whole princess ideology because I loved it so much growing up but I see how it can be harmful to young girls.

I don’t know what I would do if I had a daughter.  I certainly didn’t see something like the Little Mermaid as anything but empowering as a girl.  I wanted to get out and try my own ways just like Ariel.  I wanted to read and be bold like Belle.  It never occurred to me that there was these more negative subtle social influences.  If they didn’t occur to me until I was in my 20s do they matter?

You look at something like Dorothy who fights evil and saves Oz from the wicked witch and it seems super empowering.  Never did I think that all of the people surrounding Dorothy are men except for the wicked witch. What do you guys think?  Do these negative female characters affect the way girls grow up (or boys for that matter)?  Are they harmful?  Are they harmful to adults and male/female interaction (as in the old maid example)?

What are stories that have a male villain?  I thought of Tolkien but all the characters in his books are male for the most part so it doesn’t count.  Don’t you find that odd that the women is always the villain?  Maybe this is part of the reason I didn’t really like fantasy growing up.  I didn’t relate to the perfect ingenue and I certainly didn’t get the villainesses.

 

My Writing Prompt

My sister did this fun writing prompt on her blog:

Write something that includes all of the following words:

WHISPER

DREAM

and…get ready for this…

GOPHER

It can be one sentence, a few sentences or a short story.  Post it in the comments.

I think this could be awesome.  I would just love to hear what crazy ways people come up with to combine these three words.  If people actually do it  (go blog readers, go!), I will make it a regular feature.

Here’s mine:

It was nothing but a couple of words said in a scratchy whisper, but it was enough to make Katie Lou dive back behind the woodpile faster than a fleeing gopher.  She held her breath and hoped that they didn’t see her.  I must be dreaming, she thought.  I just have to be

—–

I love writing and I thought the challenge was fun.   This is the story I came up with.  It is silly and unedited but I enjoyed writing it.  What do you think?

Prompt

Some have described working in a newsroom as controlled chaos but I don’t know if that is accurate. It is more a collection of tedious details interrupted by spurts of insanity. As a girl I used to watch movies like His Girl Friday dream of cracking the big story (and ending up with Cary Grant never hurt the imagination).
Even through internships and my blissful days as an undergrad I maintained the illusion of the noble journalist. Now in my first year as a copy editor for WBGY Afternoon News in Boston I was filling my days with reading stories for the night’s broadcasts and switching ‘affect’ to ‘effect’.
The only bright spot in my day was when Tom, nicknamed the Gopher for his ability to find any file now matter how deep in boxes it was entombed, would lean over and whisper in my ear “Take Hitler and stick him on the funny page.” This is of course a quote from His Girl Friday. He would smile and I would blush. In our training I may have mentioned a few 200 times how much I loved this movie and how ‘they don’t make ‘em like that anymore’. What a stupid thing to say! Who talks like that! Oh well. The truth is I was kind of flattered he remembered my references and maybe one of these days I’d have the guts to ask him over to watch it with me. We could talk, laugh…
Ok. Back to work. Sometimes I think Tom liked getting the gopher jobs because it allowed him to get away from our boss Cheryl who both had crush on Tom and made life miserable for him. I’m not sure how that is possible but she made it her daily objective. A first year employee wants to strike a careful balance between blending in so no one see’s your inexperience, but standing out just enough to get promoted. Tough to do when the boss is crushing on you!
“Cindy” my boss’s shrill voice yells out ‘do you understand the meaning of the word preposition”
Grumbling I think “Enough to know you just used one”.
“What’s that?” I reply.
“Your work is sloppy. Get it together. Without all of us working at 100%, A+ level, we will never be number 1 now will we?”
This is how Cheryl treated her employees like 5th graders in a school play. My prideful spirit wanted to yell out
“Maybe you could do your job better…jerk!”
But instead I nodded “of course. I will try to do better”.
“That’s the terrifimundo attitude!”
I roll my eyes and look longingly at Tom. Maybe I can learn to be a gopher?
“I have a story for you and Tom to work on” Cheryl says out of the blue.
“Really?” I can’t help but blurt out. It was a good thing I wasn’t drinking my morning soda or I might have sprayed all over her posh suit.
“Don’t get too excited. Our regular staff is overwhelmed with the election and we need someone to cover the senior center opening on 5th. Senator Neil is going to be making a speech so we need team coverage…Get on it”.
In spite of myself I give Cheryl a hug and bolt for the back room.
“Did you hear the news? We’ve got a story!!” I exclaimed to Tom.
Smiling he gave subdued ‘All right!’
“When do you want to get together to go over the details” I asked.
“How about Friday but what would you think to watching His Girl Friday first?” He smiles and gives me a wink.
“Sounds good ‘you great big bubble-headed baboon’”…

Moving Mountains-41 lbs

This morning  I was a little bit sad.  As many readers of my blog know several months ago I attempted a rock climbing wall for the first time.  This was much harder than I thought it would be for a lot of reasons.  It is physically demanding but also mentally hard.  At least for me it is hard to get over the sensation of falling. The footholds feel small and after a few minutes my arms are burning.  Then I start to feel anxious and I have to let go. Have any of you climbed rock walls before?  Do you agree that it is difficult?

Anyway, I was hoping this time I would be able to get higher than last time.  The climbing wall has three levels- at each level the spacing becomes further a part and more difficult.  Unfortunately I was still unable to get past the first level of footholds.  I tried twice with all my strength but no luck. (I was less winded than last time and less sore). I’m not going to deny that I felt some discouragement at not being able to improve. I have been working so hard, watching what I eat, exercising like a maniac (5 times a week), and increasing the intensity of my weight lifting/cardio routines.  My trainer could tell I was down and she brought out all of the ways I’ve improved.  (she’s so great!).  I guess it is hard when things don’t move as quickly as I dream.

After rock climbing I decided to do some cardio and did the elliptical for 35 minutes at an intense setting (480 calories burned).  While I pushed through the cardio I remembered a story I heard in my Chinese politics class at BYU.   It is an old fable called Yu Gong Moves a Mountain.  It is about a man who has 2 mountains in front of his house.  Eventually tired of maneuvering around the mountains Yu Gong says, “The two mountains have given us too much trouble getting outside, how about we move them away!”.  So Yu Gong and his sons begin digging away at the mountain each day. Through the storms and winters they keep digging “until one day, God in heaven was moved by them and sent two immortals to take the two mountains away.”

My journey is kind of like Yu Gong’s- it feels like a mountain in front of me that I will never be rid of.  It feels insurmountable. However, by digging each day and doing my best I am making progress- despite what the rock climbing wall says.  This was shown to me after I finished the cardio, and I decided to weigh myself for the first time in several weeks.  Looking down I was stunned to see 272!  I did it again and then again on a different scale- 272.  This means I have lost 41 lbs since I started!

I’m not giving up! I’m meeting with my trainer every week in December just to be sure I don’t get off track.  I will move this mountain!  Thanks for all of your support.

Elements of a Story in Our Lives

For my birthday my sister Megan got me A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  I am about 50 pages into it and loving this book. It is a bit hard to describe but basically Miller is a writer who begins to feel that his life is boring that it is unworthy of a memoir (even though he had just published a memoir and was blocked on writing his newest one).  While feeling frustrated and blocked he gets an offer to write a screenplay and in his meeting with the other writers they mention that his character will need to be changed to make a better story.  This makes him wonder even more about what his life is all about and how much of a hand God has in the development of his story.

I am still reading but there was one part that I just had to share.  Donald goes to an intense story-writing conference where he hears 36 hours of lecture and is still confused about what makes a great story.  When packing up his bags he mentions his frustrations to his buddy who responds:

“A Story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it”, he said with remarkable assurance.

I looked at the definition for a second wondering at how simple it really was.  He was right.  A character who wants something  and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story.

“That’s it!,”  I said to him.  “That’s the essence of a story”

Realizing this truth he has a fascinating interaction with a friend of his.  This friend has a daughter who is starting to experiment in drugs and is dating a guy “who smelled like smoke and only answered questions with single words ”  (I love that description!).  After repeated grounding attempts nothing seemed to be working.  On a whim Donald tells his friend that his daughter is “living a terrible story”.

“What do you mean?” he asked

“I don’t know exactly, but she’s just not living a very good story.  She’s caught up in a bad one”

After that the two friends talked for a long time about living the right stories.  A couple of months later he ran into this friend and asked about the daughter.  ‘”She’s better” he said to me smiling. And when I asked why, he told me his family was living a better story”.    Basically the friend went online and looked for something different, better to be involved in- something that might catch his daughters eye.  In the search he found an organization that builds orphanages around the world.  He then called the organization and signed up for the service.

“So I went home and called a family meeting…I told them about this village and about the orphanage and all these terrible things  that could happen if these kids don’t get an orphanage.  Then I told them I agreed to build it”

My wife sat there looking at me like I’d lost my mind.  And my daughter, her eyes were as big as melons and she wasn’t happy.

He then goes on to explain that after getting over the initial shock the entire family became excited including his daughter.  She even wanted to use her website and blog to promote and fund raise for the orphanage.

“That’s incredible” I said   “You know what else, man?” “She broke up with her boyfriend last week.  She had his picture on her dresser and took it down and told me he said she was too fat. Can you believe that?  What a jerk.”

“But that is done now,” he said, shaking his head. ” No girl who plays the role of hero dates a guy who uses her.  She knows who she is.  She just forgot for a little while”

I have a quote on my wall that says “If at some point in your life you are not where you want to be it has no bearing on the future. You can always reinvent yourself”.  I don’t know who said that first but I think this is a very interesting idea.  Just like the girl in the story or the prodigal son from scripture, we can come to ourselves and think upon our ways; thereby, creating a new story, a better story, or certainly a more dynamic story.  Even if it is not a redemptive change, knowing that change is possible is so wonderful.  For example, if I am able to lose weight that would change my story- it may or may not make it substantially better but the chances are it will make it a longer story.  Another example that comes to my mind is the new story which was created when I quit my job at JWA.   I felt 100% authentic to what God wanted to me to do and what was consequently right for me.  As Donald says “And once you know what it takes to live a better story, you don’t have a choice.  Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die and its not natural to want to die.”  This is the best summary of how I feel now compared to how I felt in my old job.  I just wasn’t living the story I was meant to live- it wasn’t a bad story, just not the one for me.  I am so glad I had the guts to leap into the unknown and try something new.

On my mission I saw many people who started to tell a different story.  They experienced conversion and fairly quickly his or her life became a life with a “Mormon” story thrown into the mix.  I’d be curious to hear of moments in your life where a change in your story had a dramatic affect or a smaller but memorable one.