A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I just finished reading Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I’ve appreciated some of Miller’s other writing. So when this book recently came up in a conversation with some friends, I decided to give it a try. I thought I was going to have tons of time to read during the current quarantine from the COVID-19 pandemic, but this is actually the first book I’ve managed to finish since everything started shutting down in the second week of March.

It turned out to be a good place to start my pandemic reading, though. It’s the memoir of a man who largely sequestered himself from the rest of society. He stayed mostly at home, writing on his laptop. He was scared to pursue relationships, fearful of the ways his past could impact his present and his future. The story of this book really started gaining traction when some film producers came to develop a screenplay of one of his more successful books. They started talking with the author about the way films depend on a clearly-defined story arc (even more than books do). And so, ironically, the author started learning about structuring good stories.

His own “inciting incident” came when he realized that his own life wasn’t a very good story. And that he wanted to do something to change it. He started a quest to train for a cross-continental bicycle ride, look for his long-lost father, and pursue a woman. And along the way, he took note of the way his story changes.

I appreciated this book, both as a writer and as a pastor (Donald Miller also happens to draw a lot of inspiration from his faith in Jesus). I think the book gives us inspiration through introspection, especially during this ad hoc “sabbatical” that’s been granted to us. However, it may be challenging to implement these elements to a better story until the quarantine lifts. All the same, I recommend this book to anyone looking for something constructive to read these days.

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