Donald Miller: Writing His Own Life Story
- Thursday, September 17, 2009
You know, in Portland hundreds of people show up for book readings. So people will literally show up to hear an author read from his or her new book. They're wonderful evenings. David Sedaris gets paid $25,000 to show up at a reading for his book, and he fills out very large venues. So it'll be interesting to see how it works out. I've done readings before, and we'll have a thousand people there or something like that. But I don't know how it's going to work on this tour. Susan will probably do a reading, and I'll probably do a talk—but one that's based on the book.
I read somewhere where you've said that you're more of a behind-the-scenes person. So when you're speaking in front of big groups of people like this, how does that make you feel?
It's not that I don't like it. It's that I recharge by sort of not being up front all of the time. But I enjoy speaking. I like it. I can get worn down pretty quickly doing it, but I always go back and want to do it again. And I truly believe in this message. I've given the lecture a few times. People have sold their homes and done crazy things and have had their lives dramatically changed—not through what I have said but just due to the fact they've wanted to live a better story. They're going to die, and all they did was buy a Volvo. And they want to do something more than that. I'm excited to go out and present those ideas to audiences. Plus, everywhere I go I just meet the coolest people, and so it will be fun to go out on the road and interact with folks as well.
But … if I had the perfect life it would probably be continuing to write screenplays where nobody actually knows who wrote it or any of that. You get to tell stories and engage audiences, but you don't have to deal with some of the attention that comes with that.
Talk about the television series that you mentioned. Are you done with the writing of that?
We have filmed the pilot. It's a series called Transitus which is Latin for "crossing." It's about eight people who live in Portland, Oregon, and they've decided to live by these eight principles of community. They don't live in the same house. "We do not lie to each other" is a principle of community. "When somebody wrongs the group, we confront them." And [the principles are] all biblical. None of the characters are Christian, and there's not a religious influence in the script at all—except for that these tenets are biblical and they work. They create this really beautiful community. There's betrayal in the story and tragedy and redemption and forgiveness. "We forgive each other when we do the wrong thing" is part of one of the tenets of community. And so we filmed the pilot, and it will air on the Halogen network and we hope to film the rest of it this year.
Halogen is a brand new network. They're building their program lineup now. Paste Magazine will have a music show. They're Christians who actually started the network, but there's no religious material on the network. I think it's more along the lines of "family viewing," although our story isn't all that family oriented. So we'll see what happens.
At this point in your career, it sounds like you are starting to concentrate more on screenwriting and less on books. Is that an accurate assessment?
I think I'll focus more on fiction in the future. It's so great to write as a team and to write stories for screen. And then it's millions and millions of dollars in order to make a movie, and so it's just a mind-boggling process. Well, if you actually wrote a book you just publish it. It's not write the book, and then find the actors and then work with the unions and then figure out who's going to be your light crew and raise $5 million to actually shoot the film and then hope you get a distribution deal. I think I didn't realize I was going to have to do all of that for this movie, so now I'm just thinking that I could just write stories and put them on paper. That seems a lot easier. And you don't have to hire actors that way, right? You're just finding the right pen.
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