MCN Columnists
Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

And Now, the Rest of the Story

Published under 1,000 Monkeys.

You have a lot of time to read when you’re laid up recovering from surgery. Thankfully, a friend gave me a gift I will treasure forever, Donald Miller‘s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. One of the things Miller talks about in this book is Story (yes, in the Robert McKee sense)  — the idea that your very life is a story, and you are the main character in it.

As Tolstoy so wisely observes as he opens Anna Karenina, happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. In other words, lives that are “normal,” or “safe” are not lives that are telling great stories. For you to grow as a person, a character in your own story, you have to go through turmoil, conflicts, times of trial, even times of tragedy and sorrow. This is how we grow as characters in our own stories. It’s what makes our stories, our very lives, challenging and interesting.

What’s the meaning of life? People much smarter than me, and with far more time on their hands for pondering such heady thoughts, have written countless pages trying to come up with an answer to this question. For me, the meaning of life is simply to not live complacently, but to put ourselves with deliberation into situations that will grow us, challenge us to look beyond ourselves. And by so doing we grow spiritually and emotionally, become more deliberate, more thoughtful, and more compassionate and caring. Partly, that’s the joy of parenthood — the payoff for all the work it entails — having the responsibility of a child teaches us to care about someone else. Learning to put our children’s needs ahead of our own selfish desire to do whatever we want, whenever we want helps our souls to reach, to grow.

We learn that when we give unto others, we do receive back in abundance, even if not always in the ways we were expecting. We progress past the pervasive solipsism of “it’s all about me” to “it’s not just about me, it’s about everyone and everything.” You’re never done with the work of growing yourself until the day you die; until that day comes, you are a work in progress, each day a new opportunity to start anew, take a new path, create a new direction for yourself. Life feels so much more full of promise and opportunity when viewed as a story with you as the central character. How will you write yourself? What a great adventure your life can be, when you come to view it as more than just schlepping along from one workday or happy hour or spin class to the next.

What’s next in my own story? I don’t know. There are bends in the road ahead, doors to open, choices to make. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I do know that I’m looking forward to it now with a zest and excitement that I’ve never felt before. I pondered in one of these columns whether I’d ever come to view the trials of these past several months as a delightful, if unexpected gift. I do. I’ve been given a marvelous opportunity through these months of divorce and illness.
Thankfully, there is still a road ahead for me, still many blank pages on which to write my story. And I’ve begun to spin my new tale already, by focusing more of my time and energy and patience on the best gift life has given me, my children. By committing to pushing myself with my writing to make it tighter and better and worth the time it takes the reader to read it. By making sure the people in my life know I love and appreciate them. By stepping back from my tendency toward perfectionism and judging, and learning to accept people for who they are, not who I want them to be. By valuing even more my wonderful circle of friends by actively making contact, suggesting gatherings, arranging get-togethers, taking trips.

I want to spend the rest of my life living my life, not just passively watching it go by. Living my story. Growing my character. That, in the end, is the point.

– Kim Voynar
January 11, 2010

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon