NaNoWriMo: The Raw Cut

13 Dec

Is the suspense killing you? I know I promised to update in a week after my last post, but hey, 26,055 words really takes it out of a girl.

Yes, I conquered NaNoWriMo.


After a writing blitz during the last week of November, in which I locked myself in my apartment after work each day and ignored my friends, the book crossed 50,000 words on the evening of November 30th. I had almost four hours to spare before the midnight cutoff. With a relieved sigh, I submitted the completed manuscript to the NaNoWriMo website, confirming my winner status. Then I emerged from my apartment and went to a friend’s Harry Potter party to celebrate.

The feeling of accomplishment floated me along for the next week. My self-esteem enjoyed the boost after all the deriding remarks I kept feeding it up until I finished my book.

At the same time, I felt perfectly content to not write again for a good long while. Even two weeks after finishing, I still look forward to a break from serious, lengthy writing until at least January. I above all don’t want to work on my book. We spent too much intimate time alone, so we’re taking a break. I need the distance to clear my head before I jump into the waist-deep editing that it desperately needs.

Unfortunately, my eager and supporting friends and family now want to read the book. Too many have already asked, “So when do we get to read it?” Thank you for the encouragement, but you don’t want to see a fresh NaNoWriMo book. I don’t even want to read it, and I know what it’s about. No, this one needs severe cutting and stitching before it will be ready for eyes.

That said, I will consent to revealing a raw cut from the middle of my book, if only to increase my motivation to edit and eventually, hopefully–one day–publish the full book. So, without further ado, please enjoy the following excerpt:

Secondhand Lions is one of my favorite movies. With three exceptional actors, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment, and Michael Cain, it was practically a guaranteed winner. I found the DVD on sale for five bucks at Walmart and couldn’t pass it up. The basic plot is a boy, Walter, gets dropped off at the house of his great-uncles, whom he has never met, to stay for the summer. His single mother assures him she will be back in a couple weeks or a month at the most. She encourages him to try, in the meantime, to find the rumored treasure the great-uncles have stashed away.

Walter and his uncles act awkward around each other at first, but they start to bond once Uncle Garth begins to tell Walter stories of war, sword fights, an evil sheik, a princess, and a treasure of gold. In a gripping scene between Walter and his Uncle Hub, who would rather fight than tell stories, the boy asks if his uncle’s stories are true. Growing up with a mother who only lies to him, he desperately wants to believe the fantastic stories of his uncles but doesn’t know if he can.

Uncle Hub says it doesn’t matter whether the stories are true, neither confirming nor denying them. He responds, “If you want to believe in something, believe in it. Just because something isn’t true, that’s no reason why you can’t believe in it.”

He decides to give Walter a small taste of the speech he calls, “What every boy needs to know about being a man,” and the full length of which he had given to many boys and men in his life. As he goes on, he tells Walter, “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this that love,” and choking up a bit, “true love never dies.” Whether or not those things are true, Uncle Hub says, “A man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.”

That isn’t an opinion you will hear often. It almost sounds new age and like believing in subjective truth, as if there is no absolute reality. But I think Uncle Hub wasn’t trying to teach Walter to believe in whatever he wanted or what made him happiest. He wasn’t denying that truth is important.

Rather, I take it that he meant there are certain things that we have to hold onto even when life seems to prove it wrong. In the face of opposition and in the middle of battle, we should believe particular principles to carry us through. If we give them up, we will lose everything. When a soldier forgoes hope for victory, he will lose his strength and courage to keep fighting. In a way, he contributes to his own failure by losing faith. So our beliefs affect our lives and may even save them. It matters what we choose to believe.

Some people call religion and spiritual faith a crutch for people who can’t accept reality. I also heard a Christian respond, though I can’t remember who, that Christianity wasn’t just a crutch; it was a full-body stretcher. This Christian fully acknowledged that his faith not only gave him something to lean on, but it completely supported him when he had no strength of his own. Is that an ignorance and denial of truth? Of course. That is, if the faith is based on false beliefs. But trustworthy faith deserves full reliance. If the faith is in truth, then why shouldn’t you use the stretcher? Refusing that support and confidence only reveals cynicism and doubt, not loyalty to objectivity.

Let’s take Christian faith, for example. If there’s nothing reliable in believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, then people are just accepting it to make themselves feel better. It gives them some false hope that makes life seem more meaningful, as if life has purpose. It also eases their minds about death if they can believe that they will go to heaven for an eternity of rest and joy. If Christianity is a lie, then Christians use it as a crutch to be happier, but it simply deludes them so they can escape reality.

On the other hand, suppose there really is something to all this hype about the Bible and Jesus. If salvation and eternal life come only through believing in Jesus, believing God became a man and died to save the world, believing his sacrifice frees you from the punishment for sin, then your only hope is to throw yourself fully into trusting the truth of Christian faith. If you hold back, you’ll be lost. Choosing to not let faith in Jesus carry you will condemn you to eternal death, instead, which we call hell. Yes, faith takes a leap, but it’s a reasonable one if the object of your faith is truth.

You can watch the scene I discuss from Secondhand Lions here. Please leave constructive feedback in the comments if you have some to spare.

1 Comment

Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Other thoughts


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One response to “NaNoWriMo: The Raw Cut

  1. Kaitlin

    December 14, 2012 at 12:44 am

    I love this section of the book. (Maybe partially because I love Secondhand Lions, and I love that speech.) I completely agree that the man was not talking about subjective truth, but talking about believing in something because, if it isn’t true, life isn’t really worth living. I would suggest taking a look at 1.) C.S. Lewis’s A Silver Chair, when the Marshwiggle says that, even if the sun really is only that lamp and Aslan only that cat, he prefers to believe in his “imaginary” world because, if it really doesn’t exist, the “real” one isn’t worth living in; 2.) Kierkegaard’s opinion on a “leap of faith” (having to choose in spite of lack of proof, Christian existentialism), and 3.) this quote: “If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not the truth.” (Dostoevsky) That train of thought might not be where you wanted to take this, so in no way do I want to obligate you. It’s just what I thought of 🙂

    In the last paragraph, you conclude with “Yes, faith takes a leap, but it’s a reasonable one if the object of your faith is truth.” I agree wholeheartedly. I think you could possibly say a little bit more about why Christianity, though not objectively provable (just as atheism isn’t), is certainly reasonable (if you want thoughts on that, see Pascal). More importantly, I was thinking as I read it that you could talk about how, if you are truly Christian, it is NOT easy AT ALL. It is DANGEROUS and HARD – even if you don’t go to a war-torn country as a missionary, you have the Spirit always pushing you to value right relationship over getting attention, forgiveness over holding a grudge, caring about the people around you more than yourself, caring about people you don’t even like, and seeking reconciliation when it SUCKS. People certainly use “Christianity” as a selfish crutch for their own comfort, but if Jesus is really a part of their lives, it’s a different story.


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