Monday, February 2, 2009
You know the movie, Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray? It seems some people either hate it or love it. I’m one of those that loves it. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
Here’s a quick recap: Weatherman Phil Connors is sent to Pennsylvania to report on the infamous Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who can predict how much more winter is in store for those who believe. While there, he becomes stuck in this fantastic vortex where he keeps living the same day over and over again. Every morning he wakes to the same song on the clock radio, he meets the same people in the Bed & Breakfast he’s staying at, the same activities continue to happen around him day after day after day after day. . .
So what’s so great about this movie, you ask? Connors’s character arc. He starts out as a self-important jerk and ends up a hero in the town. He goes from disbelief, becoming, if possible, even more of a jerk to those he encounters, to developing into an upstart citizen, being sure to show up wherever he knows there will be trouble. He changes a flat tire for a car-full of old women, daily. He saves a kid from falling out of a tree, daily. (My favorite line, btw, is “You never thank me” as the kid runs off safe on terra firma.) And best of all, he prevents a senseless death of the town homeless guy.
We’re never told how long this goes on, but long enough for him to learn how to play the piano proficiently and chisel an awesome ice structure. So long that he goes from denying it’s happening, to trying to do something about it, to giving up by trying to kill himself, to resignation. Once he finally figures out that he has no control over this crazy clock twirling back and forth between midnight and 11:59 PM, he actually begins to better himself. It seems toward the end that even though he’s ready for tomorrow, the real tomorrow, to come, he will make the best of today.
Publishing is like that. (Ah, so you do have a point? Yes, I do.) Some writers feel they are caught in that whirlpool, living the same day over and over. Send out the manuscript. It comes back. Send it again. It comes back. Fix it. Send it out. It comes back. Every day, they wake to the same song on the clock radio. Some are optimistic, always thinking that tomorrow will be the day, only to be disappointed. Eventually, they become despondent, trying to end it all (figuratively speaking, as in, quit writing.) It’s not until they become resigned to their position that doors start to open for them. Why is that?
Just like Punxsutawney Phil, his predictions are only dependent on a Higher Power. Cloudy day? Who made those clouds? Sunny? God created the sun. Sunrise, sunset? Guess what? Only the Lord controls these things.
Your publishing career? Yep. God, and only God, is in charge of that. You can whine, take matters in your own hands, threaten to quit, but no matter what, it will all happen in His time.
My take-away from the movie, Groundhog Day, is this. It’s not up to me. I have no control. All I’m required to do is better myself and then if it happens, I move on to the next phase of waiting.
Watch the movie and see how relaxed Bill Murray becomes toward the last act. He’s proficient in everything now that he’s taken the time to learn and grow, his relationships are no longer acerbic, and -- he gets the girl.
Learn, grow, trust. That’s what God wants from us. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Kathleen E. Kovach is the ACFW Rocky Mountain Zone Director. Published through Barbour's Heartsong Presents, she writes spiritual truth with a giggle, believing herself to be truly one of God's peculiar people. For more fresh insights into movies as they relate to the craft of writing, visit her Craft Cinema blog.