Sunday, July 02, 2006

Well, Amy, What Have You Learned?

My Mom has told me that she doesn’t always read my blog because sometimes the entries are “too long.” And while I don’t understand not wanting to read every single syllable that your child - created from your DNA, born of your loins (okay, it was a c-section, but METAPHOR, people!), and product of the best in child-rearing knowledge that you had at the time- has written, I will go ahead and tell you, Mumsie-kins, this blog entry won’t be your favorite, because it’s loooooooooooooong. But I mention Dad at the end! But no, no, go ahead and don’t read. Maybe print it out? For the long winter’s night when you have nothing but time? Several years from now?

This blog is an experiment. There is no guarantee that it will work.

That was in the first paragraph of the very first blog post I wrote, back here in January.

Thus, I’m gonna blog six months at a time, the effectiveness of which I’ll evaluate at the end whether to continue or pull the plug.

And here we are, at the end of the first six months. So evaluating effectiveness should commence. Forthwith. Henceforth. Blabbity blah blah.

The reason behind this blog is fairly straightforward: I’m a screenwriting chick trying desperately to feel God’s presence in my life.

The question is, I believe in Him, and yet I can’t FEEL Him. I pray to Him, I know He can hear me, I don’t FEEL Him.

So did ya? C’mon, c’mon, Amy, did ya?

Well, not exactly. But I feel like I’m closer. Does that make sense? I’m slowly moving away from the idea of the Almighty Thunderbolt That’ll Shake The Spirit Into Me. The idea that one day, God would aim His Salvation Squirt Gun at me and unleash a torrent of Holy Spirit SOOOOOOO strong that it would shiver me to the core, and I’d be ON FIRE FOR GOD.

Though honestly, whether we all admit that to ourselves or not, we all want that. Irrefutable proof that there is a God, the Holy Spirit, the Almighty Thunderbolt, The Spiritual Squirt Gun, and He knows that I, me, this particular person, exists. We all want the burning bush.

Oswald Chambers has a lot to say about this, actually. And though I grumble/mumble/bumble about his overuse of the Guilt and Blame button, I’d like to think that I’m halfway okay enough to give credit where credit’s due, therefore here’s what Oswald’s said about the subject that has stuck with me:


“A life of faith is not one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagle’s wings, but is a life of day in and day out consistency; a life of walking without fainting.”

and here

“We look for God to manifest Himself to His children: God only manifests Himself in His children.”

and me, me, me, I'm over here!

“God will give us touches of inspiration when He sees we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never make our moments of inspiration our standard; our standard is our duty.”

And just so we don’t get too high faultin', let’s look to my favorite band The Twilight Singers , from “Martin Eden” on Blackberry Belle

how wide?
how deep the river?
black- as dark as night
how long?
how far?
i'll know when i get to the other side

So I’m starting to get what the presence of God is NOT. I used to think that about dating, actually. “I don’t know what I want, but I know what I don’t want. And if I keep going through and xing out what I don’t want, eventually what’s left is what I want.”

The problem with that line of thinking is that you could live your entire life xing out the stuff you don’t want. Because it’s ENDLESS. No bipolar boys. No alcoholics. No slackers without jobs. No bums without their own transportation. No bozos who won’t let go of the obsession over my ass. But at some point, I think it’s healthier to think and search for what I DO want. Intelligence. Taller than me. Is really really good at something that I’m not. Can have a conversation. Able to pick me up and carry me around for no reason at all.

So I need to start thinking and searching for what I do want from God. And it’s a connection. What does that mean? Not sure. But that’s what I want. I think it’s okay to ask that from God. As long as I’m open to the idea that it’s not going to be coming literally from above.

Back to the very first blog post:

I make good decisions, sometimes. I try to make the right decision all the time. But I don’t make it all the time.

Hey, I’m consistent! I still make bad decisions! I think there won’t ever be a time in my life where I WON’T make bad decisions. Because I will ALWAYS be reaching for the beer! Or the vanilla vodka! Or the energy drink with an wine chaser and wake up with zits on my chin! I’ll ALWAYS go for the Cadbury egg. Or the Trader Joe’s chocolate caramel thingies! ‘Cause they’re yummy! But bad! Yay!

So what’s a screenwriting chickie who believes in God though she’s never felt His presence to do?

Start a blog, I guess. See if that jump starts anything.

Yes, this blog has changed things. It’s done what I wanted it to do, which is to focus on God much more intently. I’m always thinking about it, because I wanna talk about SO MUCH out there. So much that bugs me, so much that I don’t get, so much that amazes me, so much that I WANT to get. And hope I will. Someday.

See if anyone else out there feels the struggle I do.

I’ll probably have to do a Hope And Pray on this one, since this didn’t exactly rattle the bushes as much as I had hoped. Or maybe you’re just on the shy non-commenting side? It’s cool, I understand. It’s probably better for me to think that there are BILLIONS out there who read and think the same thing as me and just don’t wanna out themselves rather than do an All Call I Demand You Show Yourself NOW, and have nothing but crickets.

And probably chuck it all in six months.

Six months is here, kiddies. Do I chuck it all?

I don’t think I can. There’s still more work to be done, more thoughts to think, more actions to take. Things are just starting to happen.

In a serendipitous moment so perfect it could only be orchestrated by God, I’m about to embark on a possibly life changing new endeavor.

I’ve been accepted into Act One’s Screenwriting Summer Program. They’ve been getting increasing buzz over the years. They train “people of faith for careers in mainstream film & TV.” And there’s a whole slew of working professionals that come in to teach and mentor.

When the idea first started buzzing around in my head that I should apply to this program, my reaction was typical. No, I don’t wanna. That’s my reaction to most everything in life. No, I don’t wanna. Get out of bed? Go to the gym? Work on my script? No, I don’t wanna. I don’t waaaaaaaaaaannnnnna! Date this guy? Wait, does he have a job?

I didn’t want to, because I thought Act One was all about creating overtly religious stuff. Like they would teach you to write stories about dying cancer moms reconciling with rebellious children who regain their faith in God at the funeral or some dreck like that. I don’t write dreck like that, nor do I want to learn how.

Then for awhile I thought that maybe I was being stubborn, and that kind of dreck is EXACTLY what God wants me to write. Everything else I’ve written has never gotten anywhere and it must be because it wasn’t God dreck and God wants God dreck. So I reluctantly applied, very certain that, given my industry résumé, and my level of writing skill, I’d get in. There was no doubt in my mind. Some things you just know and I just knew that I’d be getting in. Arrogant little snot. Or maybe it’s faith? Arrogant little snot who has arrogant faith.

Regardless, I did get in and I promptly went into a small-ish downward spiral. God wants me to write God dreck! It’s a prison sentence! Subvert my personality and write Hallmark crap! Goodbye cruel world! This Amy will be turning into one of those insufferable Happy Chipper Christians and she won’t ever say the F word again! Mom will be ecstatic! She won't even have gotten this far in the blog entry because it's already too long, and she'll be ecstatic anyway!

The orientation materials contained a homework list and three books to read before the program started. One of them was this one.

And as I read the essays, I realized that these writers (who will be teaching me this summer) don’t wanna write God dreck either. They do wanna write about truth, and they wanna do it in a way that’s professional and acceptable by industry standards. One of them says “I don’t have to give the answer. I just have to frame the question.” And I liked that idea very much. Because I don’t wanna give the answer either. Nine times out of ten, I’m not sure I know the answer myself. But I am acutely familiar with the questions.

I managed to locate some very fine folk in 11:00 church that have been through the program, and they allayed my fears that Act One was a deceptive factory designed to farm out God Dreckers. When I mentioned to a lovely lass named Desmonda that I was concerned that my class was gonna be made up of Happy Chipper Christians who wanted to “claim this city for Jesus!” and my standard Amy Grumpyness would not necessarily endear me to them, Desmonda said (in all seriousness, and not at all ironic), “Why don’t you introduce yourself by saying ‘I will most likely say something that will offend you all by the end of the program.’”

And I liked that idea very much. Because it will probably be true, but it’s who I am. And I don’t wanna disguise, distort or otherwise conceal that. God loves me and my Grumpy ways, most likely because He knows that it’s generally a front to test people to see if they can handle my quirks. He knows that about me, and He loves me anyway. And I would like to think that, maybe, possibly, He doesn't WANT me to disguise those quirks that make me uniquely me. Because He's gonna use them for something, something, I don't know know what. But I love the idea that He CAN use them for something, beyond the obvious He's Gonna Use Them To CHANGE THEM routine. 'Cause I'm sure that Changing Amy is somewhere on the agenda. But I'm equally sure He's gonna use my unique quirks to change someone else's opinion. And THAT'S the exciting part to me.

I’m still a little uneasy about the proceedings, if only because the orientation materials also said there’s a dress code. “Students are asked to dress in casual work attire. NO ripped jean shorts or beach attire, and no spaghetti strap tank tops for women.”


(something else I learned from this blog is if you do a post about your boobs and church , you get a huge firestorm in the comments section. So let’s talk about the evils of spaghetti strap tank tops RIGHT NOW! Kidding! Kidding, kidding, a thousand times kidding.)

The whole Act One shebang starts this Friday with…wait for it…ANOTHER RETREAT! This one is four straight days in Malibu. GOD IS TRYING TO KILL ME WITH THE RETREAT THING! Seriously, people. Four days? Four F-ing days? Even 11:00 church’s retreat knew better, they did only two days. Four days. I can’t believe it. My Dad, the Great Stoic Wonder, suggested I keep a flask in the car. At first I laughed, now I’m considering it. I can see myself texting my buddies to make up an emergency to come get me. Possible sighting of God at El Coyote. Must come to document and drink margaritas ASAP.

Yes, this blog will continue. Maybe for a month, maybe for years. Until I run out of things to say. And given this new adventure, that doesn’t seem likely. For better or worse.

I must give a special shout out to my cheering section. RichardT, MidlifeVirgin, , J , Ted , Stephaine, T.C., SpunkieSelkie aka Winifred (I named you early on!), and all the others, anonymous or not, that take the time out to comment and/or take me to task. It’s nice to know you care! You really really care! Or you like seeing yourself in print. Dude, I know the feeling, ha ha ha.

Stay tuned.


Midlife Virgin said...

God wants you to keep blogging - he told me so. Or I'm hearing voices. Seriously, I love reading about your search and the beginning of your discovery. Believe it or not, this blog is a ministry because so many of us are on the same search. Congrats on Act One. May you find something of inspiration there.

Spunkyselkie said...

Hey Ames!
Definitely keep blogging. I am glad you want to continue for you, but I also think you should continue for me. Heh heh. Seriously, though, it makes me also consider things and live more "consciously" as a Christian (who - as you know- oft has the same or similar struggles as you - though not the spagetti strap issue - that's all you! ;)
Congrats on six months of funny and enlightening blogs. And congrats on getting in the program! I think it sounds promising. I am so with you about "framing the questions" - as you know - I feel the same way about "God Dreck" - if I was assured I would write one tenth as brilliantly as C.S. Lewis, I would attempt it, but alas, I know that my attempt would devolve into ....God Dreck. Which raises the iteresting question.....why am I more confident that my "regular" stories and such are NOT non-God-dreck?.....oh dear. oh dear......
best of luck!
Can't wait to read about it!

Peter said...

"Yes, this blog will continue. Maybe for a month, maybe for years."

What? I don't get another six-month commitment from you? This blog could disappear at any moment? :-(

gw said...

hmwhat? boobs? huh?

Alright I'm kidding (for once). I hope your four days go well. Just remember to dread it immensely. That might provoke some Almighty irony.

I look forward, as always, to reading more. Your blog (I just realized I'm sick of that word. Yuck. Speaking of C.S. Lewis, "blog" sounds like a creature he'd create in one of his poems; it'd probably be oily, gellatenous, and tenticled, like a jaded jellyfish. "The Amoral Blog slithers toward..." etc etc. -- hey, does this parenthetical aside negate the heartfelt nature of the sentence within which it's embedded? I hope not. That would really suck and completely derail the sentiment. Hmmm...) really touches me.

Anonymous said...

If you write screenplays like you write this blog, i'll go see your movies!
-a lurker

J said...

OK. I know how you feel. So does my wife. We both want the thunderbolt (she more than I) but we don't get it. We try to look for God in the mundane, the ordinary. I often do better than she...I attribute this to not growing up in church. She's been bred and raised to expect the thunderbolt. Me? I'm just happy I'm not dead at the end of the day. That makes me feel that God's done a pretty good job so far.

So, you're not the only one. And I look to your blog for inspiration, hope, and faith. Simply put, God is using you. And in a small way, you're God's squirt gun for me.

I also understand the issue of loving your creativity but not wanting to write overly-religious dribble. I tried writing a worship song once. Once was all it took for me to realize that musical aptitude is a gift from Him but writing worship music isn't.

I once belonged to a small group of people who wanted to claim this city for Jesus. We actually went up to Mulholland and some dude with an accoustic and very little talent led us in songs as the girls cried and prayed over the city lights below. I threw up in my mouth no less than three times.

The CD, should it ever come out, will probably offend some Christians very much. Just as you do. But maybe some little broken Christian will hear what I'm singing, realize I'm being true and honest and painfully broken myself, and think "Geez, if God can accept this dude maybe I'm OK too."

May I suggest looking forward to finding a kindred spirit in the program? Someone who's a tad cynical and loves the F word as much as you? He or she will be there. But you'll never know if you'renot yourself.

Please don't stop blogging yet. The Christian world needs this blog. If the "Boob Post" didn't make that clear, nothing will.

Anonymous said...

Please Please PLEASE don't stop this blog. I have enjoyed it ever since a friend sent me the link. It's nice to find another Christian female who isn't so chipper and baking cookies for a bake sale. Good luck with the screenwriting thing, I know how you feel sort of, I am going into graphic design/web design field.