My Morning Jog with Matthew McConaughey
By A. Yamina Collins | October 8, 2015 2 Comments
Lately, I’ve been pursuing my desire to master the craft of writing with all the gusto and enthusiasm I can muster up. This includes reading all sorts of books on writing, and even watching online video courses.
One course I came across was taught by Michael Hauge called Writing Romantic Comedies and Love Stories. Since I am well into crafting my Fantasy/Romance The Last King, I was eager to pick up any pointers I could.
One thing Michael taught is that often times, characters in a story only pay lip service to a goal they wish to reach. A character only ever changes when he or she STOPS paying lip service to their goal, and actually DOES something about it; and this action, in turn, creates drama and character arc.
Michael equated the formula for the character’s refusal to change like this: “I (character in the story) will do anything to reach this goal (fill in the blank). Just don’t ask me to do (the thing I need to do), because that’s just not me.
An example he gave was Rose in Titanic. Rose might have said something like this, using the formula above. “I,Rose DeWitt Bukater, will do anything to get away from my horrible fiance Cal, except leave him, because that’s just not me.”
You see, she could have easily just walked away from him. But she didn’t. Why not? Because it wasn’t in her to do. It wasn’t her. For all desire for freedom, she was actually afraid of reaching her goal. After all, she had her reputation to consider and her families financial prospects and good name to take care of. In other words, she gave lip service to leaving Cal, but she wasn’t willing to do that thing she needed to do to be rid of him. All her life, I’m sure she’d heard that she could not live in a world without a man to take care of her. So it wasn’t in her character to do something about her predicament.
This all changed when she met Jack, of course. Through him she had the courage to become who she always wanted to be. And as we the audience watched her change (truly change and not just give lip service to a goal), we got to see the dramatic arc in the story: Rose stays with Jack, spits in Cal’s face, and is willing to face a life of poverty without Cal’s money to back her up.
At last, her formula had changed. Now she could say, “I will do anything to get away from my horrible fiance Cal, including leaving him. And I did.”
Well, how does all this play into my morning jog with Matthew McConaughey? You see, after taking Michael’s online class, it got me to thinking of how to apply this tactic not just to the characters in my novel, but to my own life: what things do I give lip service to, but never actually do?
Lose weight. I’ve been saying it for years. I’m always anywhere from 25-40 pounds overweight. It’s been a problem all my life. But I still continue to be overweight.
So I went to bed last night and thought to myself, “What’s the one thing I’m not willing to do to lose weight?”
I put the formula in my head like this: “I, A. Yamina Collins, would do anything to lose weight and get in shape, EXCEPT to diet, exercise, change my eating habits and suffer a little. Because none of those things are me.”
And they aren’t me. You see, I love sugar, not exercising, and not suffering.
But all those things I love – those things that are so much a part of me – are also killing me. And they have a lot to do with living in fear. Yes, in terms of weight, my identity has become that it is okay to be fat. I’ve always been fat. It is who I am.
Or so I believed.
But in truth, it’s a false identity; just like Rose’s identity that she could not survive without Cal, was false.
I, A. Yamina Collins, was never meant to be someone who hates suffering, or who loves being physically out of shape. I don’t believe God created me to be that person. But that is the person I have been.
And it’s going to change.
So this morning I decided to put into practice the things I won’t do to lose weight. Actually, I started 3 days ago, eating really healthy foods like quinoa, avacado, hummus, chicken, almonds, tea, water, etc. And along with changing my eating habits, I got up at 6:45 this morning and went jogging (Oh, that thing I dread!
And, yet, what a wonder it was once I did it. I smiled to myself watching the sun come up over New York city. Loads of other people were outside running and bicycling, along the pier that runs parallel to the Hudson River (on the west side). To see such simple, pure beauty was magnificent. And it was like a discovering a whole new life.
I said to myself, “I’ve been missing out on all of this simply because I fear/dread getting up early and putting my feet to the pavement.”
Then to top it off, as I was heading home, I saw Matthew McConaughey standing just several feet away from me, getting ready to film a movie. He was on 12th avenue and 30th street. I think maybe there was one body guard near him, but that was it. The whole atmosphere was casual and relaxed. Granted, this was a fat, bald Matthew McConaughey, being in character, but that just made the encounter even more special.
I continued to smile to myself as I walked past him. “See what fun things you miss out on when you refuse to do the one or two things you need to do to create change?”
Repentance and action are awesome together.
Lesson learned from fiction, applied to real life.