Sunday, March 25, 2007

Surely, you're sure? No?

I am going to try and create a meaningful blog entry here. One with personal touches, insights into Amyland that still retain the sheen of Universal Truth, and a well wrapped concluding paragraph that makes one go “Huh. I liked this one.” I used to write more of those last year, but that’s the bonus of Year One of any blog, you’ve got a lot to say.

And it’s not as though I don’t have ANYTHING to say, but it’s not feeling new and fresh. I want to write something new and fresh, like, like, a new brand of panty liner or something.


Ah well, here we go regardless.

I’ve been chugging through Kris Young’s “Getting Through The First Draft Of Your Life 40 Devotionals For Screenwriters,” and I think it’s best to be reading these if you are in fact working on a script. Luckily, I am, I’m in the midst of a giant overhaul on the Purple Monkey script, and it’s due on April 15th, and I know I’ll get there, even though my mentors who are overseeing this overhaul left me with these parting words, “Don’t treat it like it’s your first draft, treat it like it’s your best draft, and really knock this out of the park, because this is one of those once in a career lifetime ideas.”

So absolutely no pressure.

A lot of what Kris has said in the devotionals really resonates with me:

From Rah Rah You’re GREAT things like “No one in human history will ever write in the same unique and marvelous way God designed you to write”

to Things You Should Do (That I’m Already Doing And Thus Freaks Me Out Because If I’m Doing What I’m Supposed To Be Doing Where’s The Fruits Of The Labor?) “Wake up very early in the morning while it’s still dark, leaving the house to a solitary place to…pray.” (My solitary place to pray is on the ellipticals in the gym, to me, this still counts, it keeps you amazingly focused.)

to Whoa, That’s An Interesting Perspective, And I’m Totally Using It, “If you create work that God deems Good…He promises it will be conspicuous/prominent/noticeable/outstanding/celebrated/famous. And even if it doesn’t seem that way from your or their P.O.V. at this time, God whose P.O.V. is outside of time sees the Truth…Good Work cannot remain hidden. (inspired by 1 Timothy 5:25)”

But there was this one that I was a little puzzled by. And I shouldn’t be, really, because it’s everyone’s favorite Psalm, Psalm 23. For those of you who don’t wanna crack a Bible, it’s the one that starts, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” He makes me lie in green pastures, and leads me beside rivers, and I walk through valleys of shadows and death and stuff but I’m not scared because God’s with me YIPPEE! (my paraphrase.)

This particular devotional focused on verse 6, and he’s using the good ole King James version, which is “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Kris goes on to craft a devotional that calls for the screenwriter not to panic, even during the Sahara Dessert of the Second Act, even when you’re doing everything possible to do something, anything to jump start your career, joining writers groups, entering contests, attending seminars and classes, and then you lie awake at night thinking you’re a failure. Actually, the way Kris phrases it is this:

“And then you look at all the silly scripts you’re spent months, maybe years writing – and all you can do is just lay down and die. You’ll go to sleep and never write another script again.”

Which sent a cold shiver of recognition within me, as I’ve thought on more than one occasion this month alone that “Now would be an EXCELLENT time for a car to hit me and put me out of my misery.” You all know I think that’s how I’m going out, right? Whenever my number’s called, whatever day that is, I have a very clear picture that it’s coming on the hood of an out of control car. Or a plane wreck. But I prefer the car, since I’m the only one that’s in harm’s way. No fair taking innocent civilians along with me.

Regardless, Kris perks himself up from the Failure Bubble by remembering verse 6 of the 23rd Psalm, ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” And Kris reasons, “If God says Goodness and Mercy’s been following me all my life and God is not a liar…then maybe Goodness and Mercy are walking and I’m running…maybe all I need to do is slow down. Stop and wait.

The ultimate thing that Kris is saying is that the screenwriter needs to slow down and wait. To “Wait on the Lord. Renew your strength, Rest in Him. Lie down in green pastures. And wait for Goodness and Mercy to catch up to you see what a difference that makes. Then write.”

Check Kris out, he’s hit at least two or three of the more annoying platitudes I blogged about last year, ha ha ha.

But ironically, that’s not what I have a problem with (eh, I still have a problem with those platitudes, but I have no new and fresh panty liner ideas to go through it again.) I have a problem with thinking “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” is a promise from God. God’s not saying the 23rd Psalm. David is. It’s not like when Jesus says at the end of Matthew, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (and you can argue all you want about whether it’s Jesus or Matthew saying it for Jesus.)

I read “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”, hell I read the whole 23rd Psalm as someone who’s desperately trying to reassure themselves that God is indeed there, and yes, God will take care of you, and yes God will provide for you, even though you slept with Bathsheba and sent her husband to the front lines of the war to be killed on purpose so you could continue to shag her, and whoa, that’s really f’ed up, but surely, SURELY “Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

It’s not a promise from God to me, it’s a desperate hope from me to God.

The same kind of desperate hope that I go to sleep with every night, “it’s gonna work out. No really. It will. It doesn’t look like it will at this minute, with money evaporating out of my bank account due to no steady job and bills and someone stealing my glasses (what kind of f’ed up person steals someone’s prescription GLASSES?!) so I had to drop bucks to get new ones, and that vacation I insisted on taking for my birthday. Never mind all THAT. It’s gonna work out. Right? Right? Because you’re God and you’re good and you’re gonna work it all out, and THEN Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all days of my life, right? Right? PLEASE TELL ME I’M RIGHT.”

I think it’s the word Surely. Surely, I have a problem with surely. Let me crack my dictionary. It says Surely is “With assurance or confidence, in a sure unhesitating manner. Without a doubt, assuredly, unquestionably, certainly.”

Okay, I’m wrong. Why do I always think that when Surely is used, it’s as something to be battened down like a stray fly? A-ha! Dictionary goes on to say “often used as an intensive emphasizing a supposition, “Surely you don’t believe that!”

I think maybe modern day culture has devalued the use of the word Surely. Surely you jest. See!? Right there. Whenever anyone uses it, it’s with snarky sarcastic undertones.

Surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. Surely, you’re mistaken. Surely, I’m not. Surely = the verbal life raft of the desperately hopeful.

Surely, things are going to get better.

Surely, I will get my bills paid.

Surely, I will get a job (I have an interview tomorrow, so there’s that.)

Surely, I will sell a script.

Surely, God has a plan for me.

Surely, God knows what’s around the bend,

Surely, God has great things in store.

Surely, I believe that. And if Goodness and Mercy are tagging along somewhere, groovy. They are officially welcome to show up during my nocturnal panic sessions and stomp on my face We’re HERE, we’re HERE, we’re HERE.

You know, the more times you type or read the word surely, the more it looks like you’ve mistyped, and you’re trying to type the word surly.

That makes me smile.

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