Every great story has a Theme. Every character has a flaw that needs to be fixed. Every Hero has to grow.
One of my favorite movies is “The Holiday” I can watch it anytime, anywhere. If I am in a bad mood, it can lift my spirits. It allows me to escape my bad mood if only for a short time. Everyone should have a movie or book that can do that.
My favorite quote is from Iris (in fact I have probably referenced the quote in other posts here). She is having dinner with Arthur and he sums her life up in one line. Her response:
“You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life for God’s sake.”Iris, in “The Holiday”
Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am supposed to be the leading lady of my own life. Maybe that is why I like the movie so much. I love the growth of Iris over the course of an hour and a half. I wish it were always that easy.
A few years ago I participated in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50,000 plus words for a novel that I thought had great potential. (I still think it has great potential)
Then I sat back and wondered, what am I supposed to do with this now? It was a mess. I needed guidance. There was no order to the book and it was really just 50,000 bad words thrown together around one central idea. I had no idea what writing a novel actually entailed, I just had an idea for a story.
It sat dormant and occasionally friends would ask me “How is the book coming along?” I would hem and haw and say something like “I need to get back to it” or “It needs a lot of work”
This week I started reading “Save the Cat! Writes a Novel”. It was recommended in an online writing class I am taking.
“Save The Cat” helped me understand and identify the theme for my novel. And I am excited to get back to working on it. But it has done so much more than help me see how I can improve the story.
If you have followed this blog for a while, you may have figured out that I have been stuck. Grief can make you feel like you are going through life as though you are trudging through wet cement. Each step forward can feel like it takes everything you have to lift your foot with more and more dried cement caking on with each step. It is a slow, exhausting process.
As I was reading “Save the Cat” I realized the scenes in the book are not just what makes something a great read. It is also what makes any great character understand they have been the leading lady in their own life all along.
Yes, I know every high school English Teacher is shaking their head right now thinking “Are You Kidding Me? Were you not paying attention in your English classes?”
I had one (probably more than one) “All is Lost” Scenes in the last few years. The last one came when my cancer progressed after seven years of “stable”. I was complacent, accepting, going through the motions. I was not living the life I wanted. The theme to my own life had been eluding me.
Just like every hero in any book or movie, I had to go through the “Dark Night Ephipany” to realize I was still acting like the best friend and not the leading lady.
That catalyst helped me see what I had really been looking for. While many have seen the change of the pandemic as limiting, to me 2020 helped me to fully embrace the leading lady role in my own life. Making choices and moving forward. I am chiseling off all of the dried cement that had been gathering on my shoes and I feel like I am moving at a pace that shows much more progress.
The “Stated Theme” to my own life is simple “What do I want to do with my life?”
I want to make choices that show I am the leading lady of my life.
One of my goals used to be to finish writing my novel. But I have upped my game and am stating that my new goal is to get my book published.
Now I just have to go revise it.