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Derek Webb’s Sickness / My Gain

Last week I benefited from Derek Webb’s sickness.

Derek lost his voice and had a fever and hives and seven corns on the knuckles of his toes. Everything in that last sentence but the part about the loss of his voice is conjecture on my part. Anyway, Derek wasn’t able to do a show with Don Miller at the last minute and was kind enough to suggest that I fill in for him. I had a great time. The audience was gracious even though they were expecting someone shorter and balder with a cooler voice, and after my set I was able to listen to Donald Miller speak for about an hour about Story.

That this was the subject of Don’s talk was fortuitous because on the three hour drive to Memphis for the show I had a lot of time to think about Story, partly because of a great phone conversation during the drive with a writer friend of mine, and partly because I’m in the thick of book two of the Wingfeather Saga. Story as an art form has always fascinated me, and now that I’m cutting through the brush of my second book I’m even more fascinated (and more than a little intimidated) by it.

Michael Card asked me a few weeks ago what God taught me during the writing of my book, and the first thing that popped into my mind was this: there’s no story without conflict. If I want my main characters to learn something, to change into something more and better than they were at the beginning of the story, then I’m going to have to put them through the fire. One author said that in a good story you chase your character up into a tree, then you throw rocks at him. The only way for Janner Igiby to grow, to become who I intend for him to be, is to ruin his life as he knows it. I don’t think I need to point out how much bearing this has on my life and how I view my journey as a follower of Christ. If I trust that God is good and that he is making me into something unimaginably beautiful then it changes the way I see my troubles. They’re no longer sent from Heaven to torment me, but to make me new.

I could go on, but Don Miller says it much better than I, and he also talks about several other aspects of Story and what we have to learn from it. Here’s a link to an mp3 of Don’s talk on story, delivered at Mars Hill Bible Church.

What do you think?

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