Gradual Miracles


The good news was that my comedy monster movie had been greenlighted (received financing)! The not-so-good news was that the producers wanted me to relocate the story to America and, thus, reinvent all of the characters. Oy! I sort of saw why, and was sort of on-board, but was also sort of freaking out. OK, lose the “sort of.” I was freaking out.

Where to begin? I started with a must: someone from the original country must to move to America, bringing the problem (monster) with him. But why would he do that? To save the creature! But why? I worked on my outline for a week, brainstorming and tweaking, tweaking and brainstorming. Result? A mishmash of characters from the old version bumping into characters from the new version, like satellites competing for airspace. The story elements refused to blend. I went into the weekend depressed, knowing that, come Monday, I’d have to start again from scratch.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, I had a different problem: The previous weekend I’d pulled up a badly worn carpet, exposing a leprous patch of floorboards, and my efforts at sanding and staining had left them a muddy grey. For lack of a better solution, I sanded and stained the spot again. It didn’t match the area around it. So I started over again. After five times as much sanding as before, it looked (drum roll, please) a tiny bit better. I was about to shout, “Good enough!” when a still, small voice whispered, “Keep sanding.” So I sanded away the fresh stain and started over again—again. After easily thirty times the previous amount of sanding, I realized the floor was actually beginning to look like fresh lumber. The change had happened so gradually, I’d been unable to see it as it occurred. I sanded some more. And then some more. Then finally reapplied the stain. The difference was astonishing. It felt like a miracle.

A gradual miracle.

Monday morning, I returned to my writing with just one thought, “Keep sanding!” Instead of throwing away the previous week’s work, I modified it to bring it in line with the new protagonist’s story arc. Everyone extraneous to this was sent to character heaven, and everyone connected with it grew new motives. All of this, mind you, for a ridiculously over-the-top comedy. Because even farces need to make sense. Ridiculous sense, but sense nevertheless.

Three days later, I read the outline to my writers group. They liked it! Applying their suggestions, I polished the miracle some more. And then I read it to my college students (the movie’s target audience). They loved it! Somehow, ever so gradually, another miracle had occurred.

Of course, now I have to write the actual screenplay, which will, no doubt, require copious amounts of sandpaper. But at least I’ll have a coherent outline to follow.

Back to making gradual miracles.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Movies, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Gradual Miracles

  1. CJ Hartwell says:

    I like that image of sanding away! I think I’m the same, due to laziness mostly. It keeps me from experiencing the gradual miracle.
    Great story, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. smzang says:

    this reminder of the necessary mix of inspiration and perspiration
    comes at the perfect time for this corner of the world
    thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations! You are amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris Pfohl says:

    This helps me greatly, in a similar struggle. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You know, I’ve got a lot of sanders in my shop. Maybe I could use them to sand a this book I am working on.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, can I ever relate to this! I have a love/hate relationship with writing… Love it when the lumber is brand new and takes the color readily… “Sanding thirty times” as is so often the case? Not so much. 😉 I’m grateful to know that you share the same struggles at times. Thank you for this incredibly encouraging post, Mitch! And by the way, I know beyond doubt that your script will be stellar! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations on sticking with it and getting your funding!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lucie says:

    I need to keep sanding….or better yet, START sanding…Thanks for the reminder. I needed this today….<3

    Liked by 1 person

  9. notdonner says:

    Congrats on the movie project! your story here about sanding and getting inspired will help me out as a blogger and encourage my spouse: a little home maintenance; write a little. Fix something else; write some more!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. nancyehead says:

    Neat life lesson here, Mitch. Great job! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Rick says:

    Congratulations, again! Interesting we would both write about God’s whisper today! Adding sand paper to spiritual backpack for my walk of faith! Great post! In your spare time, ha! Wander over to my blog and let me know what you think of On A Mission! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great analogy, and I wish you the best of success.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Gritty Momma says:

    Wow, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I like this. God provides the *best* metaphors to help us get what he’s doing with our lives, doesn’t he? This one is going to stick with me for a long, long time. Thank you so much for sharing such quality encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Gritty Momma says:

    Reblogged this on Gritty Momma and commented:
    Mitch Teemley wrote something so insightful and inspirational about the nature of perseverance–and tunnel vision!–that I had to share. Thank you, Mitch, for the encouragement to keep sanding… even if it takes 50 passes or more!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. M.B. Henry says:

    Ah, the joys of writing and rewriting and writing and rewriting … excellent analogy too. Good luck with the screenplay!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. flyinguineapig says:

    I feel like my whole book so far has been a gradual miracle. I hadn’t even intended for it to turn into anything. I kind of just keep finding nuggets, and somehow they turn into stories that work.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. knabbler says:

    bravo on the process!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Praying for you brother. And those who you are trying to impress.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. neelstoria says:

    Congratulations and good wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Talk about scratching out a screenplay. That a boy, Mitch! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Congratulations! A lot of work, I know. It’s a gradual miracle, for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. carhicks says:

    Congratulations on getting the funding for your movie. I often leave one thing to get my mojo back. That and your story about working slowly towards a positive conclusion are great inspiration. My mom always told me, “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” You are doing well Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Paula says:

    Oy, the writing process. Way to go, Mitch in keeping on.
    This story about gradual miracles put me in mind of Jesus healing the blind man from Bethsaida whom he had to touch twice. Jesus: “Do you see anything?” Blind Man: “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Jesus touched him a second time and the man’s sight was restored.
    We used to say in AA, “Don’t quit just before the miracle happens.”

    Liked by 2 people

  24. pastorpete51 says:

    Sanding and editing my own writing are both painful sometimes humiliating and necessary. It is amazing the things God uses to teach us his ways!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. In both instances, Mitch,you found, anew, the inescapable fact that some achievements in life come from an almost preposterous amount of repetitive hard work. The result is all the sweeter.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ann Coleman says:

    Great story, Mitch! And I love the term “gradual miracles.” Too often, I want things to get better RIGHT NOW. When in reality, the key is to keep the faith, and keep doing the necessary work until they actually are better.

    Liked by 1 person

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