A friend of mine goes to a small church in Altadena where they pretty much use the Earnest Holmes books for all their study groups. They had a speaker a few nights ago and I went. His presentation was basically this: if you don’t like the situation you find yourself in, look at the thought patterns that got you there and change them. One example was the bitter husband who raked over the smoldering coals of his divorce pretty much every day and suffered from colitis.
Makes sense, right? If what you thought got you somewhere you don’t want to be, change the thought. He proposed a kinder, more peaceful life if we would all buy his book and practice what he preached.
At this point my mind is wandering. I don’t want to fight with my wife, but I don’t want to bliss out and nod off while she’s talking to me, either. And I certainly don’t want a peaceful life for my characters.
A stranger comes to town and meets a pretty widow with two charming children. They get along well and have friends in the community. Is that it? Isn’t somebody going to come through the door with a gun in his hand? Something has to happen for me to keep reading.
If Ahab isn’t freaking nuts when it comes to Moby Dick, he stays on land and practices forgiveness. If Jack doesn’t fall down and break his crown, he and Jill just stand there with a bucket of water.
Here’s a line from a poem. I forget who wrote it, but I like it a lot:
If we call the fire, it comes.
That’s our job as writers, to call the fire. And then use it to burn something down.