In the Third Act of a movie, the hero comes back from his lowest. In screenwriting we call this lowest moment the “all is lost” or “the moment closest to death.” It denotes the moment, at the end of Act Two, when the protagonist has been bested, it seems, by his enemies and by circumstance. He’s fought the good fight and lost.
Any good life has low moments like these. They’re the moments that make us. The moments that force us to dig deep and find depths of character that we may not even know we have. But necessity is the mother of invention, no?
When push comes to shove and the rubber meets the road, we find out what we’re really made of — or what we’re really made of now, after we’ve stretched and grown into a mature and powerful version of ourselves. It’s the work of adulthood to take shape, to become, to take the raw material of our fate and make from it a destiny.
Act Two is where we become an adult. It’s where life shows us what it’s really made of, so that we can find out what we are made from.
Tags: Act Three, Act Two, Film Storytelling, TFRL, Tracy Letts
What can I say? Best laid plans and all of that. When we launched Revel In It last year, the plan was to post every day and send out a newsletter every week. But we’re lean and mean and, within 6 months, it became clear that wasn’t sustainable — at least, not if wanted to get anything else done (and I still have lots up my sleeve that I want to do and am doing). And so, I’ve taken a play from the entrepreneur’s playbook and embraced the fine art of the pivot, a.k.a., “the fine art of finding what a thing is really for.”
To read more about pivots — and how they might apply to your life, even if you are not of an entrepreneurial bent — check out these articles.
Five Business Leaders Share Their Career Pivot Stories
The Pivot Point: How To Use The Energy Of Imbalance To Manifest Positive Change
My two favorite pivots of all time belong to Steve Jobs, who made the ultimate pivot when he turned his love for calligraphy into a game changing computer brand that leads with great design (and what, after all, is great design but a commitment to great aesthetic functionality) —
Tags: Entrepreneurs, Fiction Writing, FILM, Film Storytelling, Instacanvas, Narrative, Pivot, Pivoting, Steve Jobs, Writing Novels
Life is change. If we’re adventurous we meet the changes that alter and sometimes upend our lives with a mixture of courage and curiosity, courage because sometimes the experiences life throws our way are formidable, and curiosity because, when change sweeps through our lives, it serves us well to take a minute at least to not know what to do. I call this minute “getting lost.” It’s the minute before we marshal our resources or even know what they are. The minute before the answers come.
I’ve never been comfortable getting lost just as I’ve never been comfortable failing. Yet, both have their place. The Samuel Beckett quote (above), “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better,” just about writes the whole book on failure. It suggests that failure is a necessary ingredient for success, much as Malcolm Gladwell does in Outliers, where he argues, quite convincingly, that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Rack up 10,000 hours and you can bet that, somewhere along the way, you will have failed and failed again and failed better, like Thomas Edison, who failed more than 10,000 times on his way to inventing the lightbulb. You will have failed until finally failure perfected you. And by perfect, I mean perfect like a rose — with thorns, uneven petals, and all.
That is the virtue of failure. It perfects you. But what of failure’s sibling “getting lost?” What benefits does it confer? Consider Columbus. He set sail for India, got lost, and found North America instead, which only proves the point that sometime you have to get lost so that you can find the thing that you didn’t know you were looking for.
Tags: Film Storytelling, Getting Lost, Living The Fully Realized Life, Screenwriting, The Grail Legend, The Vision
The new year is all about change. We make resolutions. We start new routines. We imagine our lives changed — and that we will be the engine of that change.
What does the project of change entail? In my own life I’ve been thinking about this question a lot of late. The last few years have been filled with change. I got married. I lost my beloved father who, joy of all joys, married us a few months before he died. I decided to move my career in a new direction, and to take on the tremendous learning curve and hard work that entails. The whole world as I’ve known it has turned upside down, mostly for the better, and it’s taught me a lot about seizing the reins and letting go, all at the same time. Both are essential for change. We must take control by making decisions and backing them up with our actions, but we also have to relinquish control, remaining receptive to unexpected opportunities that may propel us forward, and to obstacles that may be redirecting us to higher ground. It’s this willingness to seize the reins and to hold them lightly that will get us where we’re going in the end. We aren’t the author of our narrative, after all, but the protagonist, and like the hero of any great movie, we will be tossed about by a fate not of our choosing, and we will have the opportunity to shape that fate with how we respond to the obstacles, and opportunities, in our path. When we make a resolution, and when then we make it so, we are engaged in this work. It is, to my mind, mighty work.
Tags: Change, Doing, Film Storytelling, FROM THE EDITOR, Planning, The Interconnectedness Revolution, Visioning