Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Superfluous Entry

(After hearing the sermon in 11:00 church this morning on how Jesus commands us not to worry in His Sermon On The Mount, a lot of this blog entry, which was written last night, seems pretty superfluous. Let me go through it one more time, and see what’s still relevant, and what makes me feel like a dumbass since I know what the answer is.)

In the trades this week I read another Purple Monkey pitch has sold. Sigh.

I’m trying desperately not to freak here. My brazen confidence chronicled here has gone POOF.

It’s because of time. A lot of time has passed. Could I have written faster? I’m one of the fastest writers I know, and a bunch of people can leave a comment to back me up (and if they don’t, they’re thinking it, they’re just too shy to post it, bwah ha ha ha.) I’ve been working on the most recent rewrite of Purple Monkey since January, and I’ve also reworked a good 70 percent of it. It’s consumed every waking moment, except for the two hours on Monday nights when I have my guitar class. And even then, it makes it way in there. This past Monday we learned how to play a very basic blues line, and the instructor said we have to come up with a blues song. I instantly came up with “The Screenwriter’s Second Act Blues.”

I’ve been trying my absolute hardest, I really have. The script is done, basically. I was going to start the round of calling my contacts on Monday anyway. But now I’m operating under severe anxiety that my chance has been shot to hell.

The Purple Monkey things that have sold are pitches, whereas I’ve already got a script, so I’m a step ahead of them. They, of course, have a paycheck, so they’re a step ahead of me.

I just want my shot. I don’t want doors slammed in my face, people not giving my Purple Monkey script a shot because “Wow, I really think the Purple Monkey genre is a little tapped right now.” Because that’s what happened with my Yellow Platypus script years ago. I don’t need to go through THAT nightmare again. I already did, thank you.

When I read it in the trades, my mind did a two second freak out, and I instantly started chanting itrustinGod, itrustinGod. itrustinGod

I ran out to the car to grab my devotional books, which I find myself taking to work more and more, not because I’m such the goody two shoes Happy Chipper Christian, but because I’m ashamed that by the time I get to lunch, I don’t remember what the devotional was that I read in the morning.

Because I am Amy Overachiever, I read devotionals from two different books each day. One of them is Quiet Moments with God, by Lloyd John Ogilvie, which is a lovely, gentle and kind devotional, which is all done in the first person, “Dear God, I pray you give me a fresh reserve of your strength today.” la la la.

And then there’s My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It was originally written in 1927, and updated for contemporary times. It was given to me as a gift by a wonderful friend Petunia (and she’s gonna hate that’s her assumed name. It’s okay! My sister Agatha hates her assumed name too!) when I met her through an Alpha course.

Petunia is a wonderful, lovely woman, glorious and Godly in the way that you strangely can't hate her for, but I immediately hated the book she gave me. Oswald Chambers' devotionals were full of accusations about how (and I’m paraphrasing) if you have to ask God what His will is for you, you’re not doing it right. “You should be so closely identified with God that you need not ask for anything” is a constant refrain of his. “Beware” pops up a lot. “Beware of refusing to hear the call of God.’

One of my personal favorites was the one that said, “If I am depressed or burdened, I am to blame, not God or anyone else.” Because when I’m depressed, which is oh, about 70% of the time (functional depressed people RULE. They’re all around you, Gentle Reader, and you don’t even KNOW it), I’m actually not blaming God, I’m crying out to him to help me through it.

So the last thing I need is to read a devotional that says, “It is impossible to be well physically and to be dejected, because dejection is a sign of sickness…Dejection spiritually is wrong, and we are always to blame for it.” Thanks, Oswald. Thank you bunches and bunches. Don’t know how it worked in 1927, but this is the stuff that turns people away from God in modern times, you know. Oswald and Pastoral Twit: your personal idiots to salvation. Okay, that was mean. Sorry, God.

Petunia had gaily written in the front cover “I hope you find this as spiritually impacting as we did!” Um…well…maybe…in the wrong way? Still, I kept with it, because I am also Amy Masochist, and one of the hallmarks of my life is that I have to do the things I don’t want to because then I learn valuable lessons in cringe inducing Hallmark moments. And I’d always have gentle Ogilvie who says things like “I am weary of doing the right thing because of guilt, not grace.” to ease whatever particular sting Oswald might throw at me. Ogilvie gets me.

But as I’m frantically chanting itrustinGod, itrustinGod. itrustinGod and trying to quell the tidal wave of hysteria rising in me from the Purple Monkey business by flipping through the devotional books, I land on something in Oswald’s book.

Look at how we limit the Lord by only remembering what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past. We say, “I always failed there, and I always will.” Consequently, we don’t ask for what we want. Instead, we think. “It is ridiculous to ask God to do this.” If it is an impossibility, it is the very thing for which we have to ask…and God will do what is absolutely impossible.”

Um. Okay. Well, it sure LOOKS impossible that my Purple Monkey script has any chance in the marketplace now. It sure seems STUPID to pray for Amy’s Purple Monkey to sprout wings and soar away, bringing back a career like Harry Potter’s Hedwig The Owl. But Oswald, Mr. Beware, Mr. It’s All Your Fault, Mr. Gloom And Doom Devotional says I should.

itrustinGod, itrustinGod. itrustinGod

I trust that God knows me. I trust He knows another Purple Monkey pitch sold. I trust He knows why that would freak me out. I trust He knows how the industry works (and since He’s God, He’s probably got insider information that I don’t have.)

I trust that God only wants the best for me. I just wish I knew what His version of the best is. Is it the same as my version of the best? Does His definition of “Amy’s successful career” include selling a script, hopefully of the Purple Monkey variety? Or is His definition mean I chuck it all, move to Middle America and work as a bank teller and live a very unassuming life that most other people would consider successful, in so much that I never got thrown in jail, I stayed out of debt, and I didn’t kill anybody.

itrustinGod, itrustinGod. itrustinGod

I trust that God knows I like to write. I trust that God knows that I’m good at it by most standards. I trust that He knows, because He’s the one that gave me the ability to write in the first place, so there must be a reason why He gave it to me. There must be some purpose He wants worked out in me or in my writing. It would be swell to know what that is, God.

And then Oswald says in the devotional THE VERY NEXT DAY

The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?” Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.”

And I’m wrong again, according to Oswald. Which may not mean anything in the grand scheme of things, because I’m pretty sure a lot of the more whacked cults out there also subscribe to the “refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions” theory. (I just wrote and then deleted a very wrong statement about Kool-Aid and multiple wives. You can fill in your own blanks.)

itrustinGod, itrustinGod. itrustinGod

I trust. Is it wrong to want to know more? Is wanting to know more a sign of NOT trusting? Or a sign of desperately needing God’s assurances that yes, Amy Masochist, everything really is going to be okay?

Because I tend to think it’s the later, and then when you don’t get any big or small, loud or quiet voice, either in the still of your soul, or in a spectacular burning bush, if you’re getting BUPKISS in the way of assurances , then where do you go? Back to the Guy who you didn’t get an answer from in the first place? Isn’t that a little whacked?

What’s “okay”? Define “okay”? Yes, the basics are covered. Food/shelter/income. Is that ALL it means? What about hopes, dreams and aspirations? How do I know THOSE will be “okay”? That Your version of “okay” is the same as mine? If not, how is Yours better, and when will You tell me?


And then I went to 11:00 church this morning (I ran the slides for the sermon, and would have done a much better job if I didn’t have Overhelpful Guy leaning over my shoulder, telling me what to do next every second. HE doesn’t trust either, ha ha ha.)

And because I ran the slides, I have the notes, I STOLE them. Kidding, Pastor 11:00 church (he needs an assumed name too, how ‘bout Pastoral NotATwit? Ha ha ha. Nah, I already named his wife, Bernice, so his name will now be…Bernard.) doesn’t need them back, he’s got them on his hard drive.

Pastor Bernard’s notes are all ABOUT how worry is wrong, it’s unhelpful, it doesn’t jive with common sense, “It’s not only distrust of our Heavenly Father, it’s STUPID. (and I mean that in the nicest way possible.)”

Yeah, yeah, just what I need to hear, thanks. There’s also talk about True Ambition versus False Ambition, which is Self Ambition versus Godly Ambition. Meaning our own material security versus God’s rule and righteousness.

Pastor Bernard is not saying this out loud, but I know what it means. I’m stupid, selfish and an idiot. Stupid for worrying about Purple Monkey scripts. Stupid for praying for success for Purple Monkey scripts. I have the basics covered, I should be forever grateful, go volunteer at Soup Kitchens, and Homeless Karaoke and not ask for anything else, forever and ever amen.

But if someone could tell me how in the world a Writerchick is supposed to write for God’s rule and righteousness and still maintain my own quirky sense of self, I’d really appreciate it.

And less this entry ends like the complete bummer I know it is, let’s put a happy face on it, shall we? Behold: The cutest dog I’ve seen lately. This dog does not worry at all. This dog knows it's got all the basics covered. And the only thought on this dog's mind is "does this thumb taste good? I think so, gnah gnah gnah."

1 comment:

Midlife Virgin said...

I understand your struggle about trust. Sometimes, we have to just assume that five years from now when maybe your Purple Monkey hasn't sold but you're filthy rich and successful off of the Cute Puppy script, you'll go, oh, that's why the Purple Monkey script didn't sell, the universe was waiting for the Cute Puppy one. Sometimes, we can't see the path that we're standing on. Keep up the search, keep up the faith and keep writing!