I had the chance to hear author Donald Miller speak in Hollywood last night as part of a book tour promoting his new book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. He's best known for his memoir Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, which is being made into a motion picture.
When he started working on the film, he was told that certain changes would have to be made to his life story in order to create a compelling film. (Unfortunately, I think this is true of my own life as well.) In a line from his book which also made its way into his live act, he talked about how he felt about the changes being made to his life story, noting "I used the term artistic integrity, which is something I'd heard on National Public Radio." He had me at "artistic integrity."
His new book goes on to explain how he wondered how someone could take the principles that make a good story and apply them to real life to make your own life more compelling. One of the more notable ways he's done this is by founding The Mentoring Project, a faith-based organization working to provide mentors to young boys without positive male role models. It sprung out of his work on the book To Own A Dragon: Reflections On Growing Up Without A Father. He also serves on the Presidential Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families.
I'd seen him speak before and was somewhat unimpressed, feeling that he was good, but that he was a far better writer. This time was different, as he actually had something to say. He's a funny author and has a talent I'm still working on, being funny in 140 characters or less.