Is Your Life a Good Story?

I’m reading a book called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller. I’m not sure how it landed on my bookshelf, but I’m making a concerted effort to read the books I have, so I recently picked it up.a million miles in a thousand years

This one surprised me. I knew Don Miller wrote Blue Like Jazz, so I figured the book would likely have some religious overtones. I opened the book cautiously, not because I don’t like spiritual writing, but because I wasn’t sure what flavor of spiritual writing it would be.

So far, it’s a wandering book that feels like the ramblings of a smart and thoughtful person. It’s his story of working with two filmmakers to make a movie of his life. But it’s more than that because it’s about the process of examining life as a story.

Early on, Miller points out that everyone’s life is a story — you have one and I have one– and we are all writing it every day, even if we aren’t setting our stories to the page. Miller applies the basics of novel-writing (which are also the basics of screen-writing) to his own story and decides his life comes up short.

In a good story, there is a protagonist who wants something. The story is the quest for that something—really, that’s all a story is. It will likely include obstacles, setbacks, guides, challenges, decisions, and inevitable personal change, but at its base, it’s just someone trying to get something. It helps if you have a likable protagonist, someone readers will root for.

Which made me think about myself – What is my story? Who am I and what do I want? And am I writing a good story?

I think we spend the first part of our lives wanting all kind of things—dumb stuff like cool clothes, a perfect body, concert tickets, exciting vacations, lots of friends, a nice car.

Or big stuff – a good job, a partner that you love, maybe children that make you proud.

All these are sub-plots in our stories.

But dig deeper, what do YOU want?

To be happy?

To be loved?

To be understood?

To understand?

To change lives?

To change the world?

What is the overarching quest of your own story?

This question has been tailing me all week, as family visited and my oldest son graduated from college. It’s made me reflective and thoughtful.


The real question that Miller left me with is this—

Is my story a good story?

Because if your life isn’t a good story, Miller asserts, you should start revising. I’ve spent the last three months revising a novel I wasn’t happy with and finally think I’m close. The idea of revising a life, well, that seems much harder.

I was interviewed recently by a blogger who writes about life in your fifties. Her questions made me think about what it feels like to be on the other side of fifty. It made me realize that there is more to a life story than all those sub-plots.

So, I’m working on my own story, holding it up at different angles in different lights and trying to figure out whether it’s a good story. Whether it’s the story I want to write.

How about you?

Are you writing a good story?

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



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Released Aug 2018 from Pegasus books:

Another Good Dog cover

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Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at

4 thoughts on “Is Your Life a Good Story?”

  1. Another great post, Cara!

    As you know, the first piece I wrote was an autobiographical novel about my own coming of age set against the backdrop of a real-life trip that I made in my twenties. As I have periodically revisited, edited, revised, and contemplated the draft, I realize that this has been the fundamental question I was trying to answer.

    Thank you for doing what all great writers do: putting words to the unnamed questions that I wrestle with daily.

    Liked by 1 person

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