I’ve always loved horror movies, but they very rarely scare me. I don’t know if it’s because I have a sick sense of humor or because I was raised to be tough or because so many horror movies are not well done (probably a combination of all three of these factors), but I usually find horror movies to be hilarious. Whenever I see a monster come out to attack their next victim or a character gets their head chopped off or something along those lines, I can’t help but laugh. I find most horror movies to be on the same level as comedies as far as humor is concerned…
With that being said, there is one movie series that stands out as being the only series to ever actually completely freak me out and scare me: the Saw series. I never once laughed while watching the movies in this series. I was completely freaked out, and yet I could not stop watching them. I watched the entire series on Netflix within about two days’ time. Since these movies left such a strong impact on me, it made sense for me to re-watch the original Saw film and analyze it in light of what I’ve learned in class about the horror genre so I could see just what it is that makes these movies so appealing and how I might choose to apply these principles to my own writing.
The first element that works well in this film is the fact that it’s extremely fast-paced. The movie opens with two men, Dr. Lawrence Gordon and a man that simply goes by “Adam” as being locked into a very dirty, almost archaic bathroom together. There is also a dead, bloodied body lying on the floor. Adam and Dr. Gordon have no memory of how they got there and they are also chained to the wall unable to escape. At first they also do not know how the man was killed or what happened to him. The last thing that Dr. Gordon remembers is going to work the night before and the last thing that Adam remembers was going to sleep the night before. This is scary because the characters were just living ordinary, regular lives and now they are in a very unordinary environment. It makes us think it could happen to us, too. There is also a bit of the fear of the unknown because Dr. Gordon and Adam don’t know how they got there or what’s going to happen next. Right away we as viewers know that something is drastically wrong and we are drawn in to the story because we want to know how they got there and how they might escape.
The entire story line and plot for the movie is also so expertly done. Many people would argue that Saw falls under the category of body horror, which I agree with since Dr. Gordon saws his foot off in an attempt to escape from his chains, Adam’s blood is poisoned, and Amanda has to solve a puzzle or risk having her jaw explode, but I’d also argue that this movie can also fall under the categories of police procedural and psychological horror. It’s police procedural because there is a mystery that must be solved throughout this movie. Detectives/police have been working on a case for a while now where a man known as “Jig Saw” has murdered and tortured several different individuals. His motive is that he wants to teach people to be appreciative of their lives. Jig Saw was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that is slowly killing him. He is very angry and bitter by this news and doesn’t think that others deserve to live unless they can appreciate the beauty of life. For those who manage to survive Jig Saw’s cruel games of torture, their views on life are forever changed, which some could argue is for the better. Since they were so close to death, they realize how easily life can be taken from them so they gain a stronger appreciation of it.
Even though Jig Saw is a horrible person who brutally kills and/or tortures people, I find myself almost sympathizing with him and liking his games at times. The idea that people should be appreciative and grateful to be alive is something that few people would argue against; Jig Saw just goes about it in the wrong way. The film also falls under the category of psychological horror for this reason. It messes with our minds as viewers. Are we really sympathizing and feeling sorry for a mass murderer? Furthermore, the story messes with the minds of the main characters, Dr. Gordon and Adam by putting them up against each other. In order to live, someone must die. In Dr. Gordon’s case, he must kill Adam if he wishes to allow his wife and his daughter to live. In Adam’s case, he must murder Dr. Gordon’s wife and child if he wishes to live since he now has poison in his blood that will kill him at a designated time if he does not complete this task. The characters often have to consider morality and ethics and what’s more important or valuable – their own lives or the lives of others around them. They have to do extremely immoral things if they want to live, and sometimes they also have to do those things just so the people closest to them may live. These are difficult decisions for anyone to make, and they also don’t have time to think through their decisions. Time is of the essence; wasting just 1 minute could be the difference between life or death.
The main takeaways I got from this film that I could apply to my own writing is to get to the action quickly, and have a strong/unique story line that keeps the reader’s attention. The puzzles are disturbing but entertaining to watch because you want to see if the characters will be able to solve them in time and be sparred their lives. They also set the scene for each film after, allowing all of the films in the series to fit together nicely. In writing this would be a great strategy to use if you were planning to write a book series rather than just one stand-alone novel. The film also has several highly graphic scenes such as the opening scene where the characters are in complete isolation with the exception of each other’s’ company in a filthy bathroom, all of the blood from the dead/dying characters, and the scene where Amanda must violently mutilate a dead man’s body and remove his intestines in order to get the key to remove the device from her jaws before she is killed. In order to achieve the same or similar effects in writing I would need to include very strong details for the setting and use very strong descriptions so that my reader could “see” the horror in each scene.
Today I read chapters 9-10 of 1 Corinthians. There were several parts of chapter 10 that really stood out to me. The first verse that caught my attention was one that I have previously highlighted and it is 1 Corinthians 10:21 which states, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakes of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” What this verse means is we have to be careful who we choose to spend our time with, what activities we decide to partake in, and really what we VALUE in this world. Do we value God or do we value man? You can have God or the world, but you can’t have both things.
This reminds me a lot of the Jeremy Camp song, “Give Me Jesus”. I saw Jeremy Camp perform a phenomenal show at Living Waters church in Burlington last weekend and the words really stayed with me in this song in particular. The words of this song are very simple and it works. Perhaps that was Camp’s point even – to strip the song of the bare necessities – Jesus. The chorus simply states, “Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus. You can have all this world, Just give me Jesus” (Camp). If you’re a Christian and you are truly saved and truly choose to follow God and to live in Christ, that’s all you need in the world. When we die and go to heaven nothing here on Earth is going to matter; the only thing that matters is our love and belief in Christ.
Here is a lyric video featuring Jeremy Camp’s “Give Me Jesus”. Thanks to iamSB for posting it on YouTube!
Another passage that stood out to me was 1 Corinthians 10: 26 which states, “For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” God created this earth and everything on it including all of mankind. We need to honor God in all that we do and remember to whom we belong. This ties in with verse 31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” As Christians and disciples of God we need to consider our actions and how we live our lives and the things we choose to partake in each day. Are we glorifying and honoring God? Do our actions show us as being God’s people? Can everyone see Christ in us?
1 Corinthians 10 concludes with verse 33 which states, “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” It is important for us to live Godly lives and to act in a way and to live in a way that is god-pleasing and god-honoring so that people will see Christ in us so that we may reach those who are not saved and to help to bring them to Christ. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect; we will never be perfect. It just means that we will strive to be the people that God created us to be and that people will see Christ in us and be so inspired by our lives and the way we live in Christ, that they will be compelled to follow Christ, too.
The controlling values of 1 Corinthians 10 might look something like this:
Purpose: We must reject the world to follow God.
Context: Following the world will cause us to sin, commit idolatry, and separate us from God.
The opposing controlling values may look like this:
Purpose: Following the world will give us more opportunities and grant us higher status among society.
Context: Chasing materialistic worldly things can never fully satisfy us; only the love and grace of a savior can fulfill us.
Actually, looking at that again now after letting it sit, perhaps the opposing controlling value may be:
Purpose: If we don’t follow the world, we will be missing out.
Context: Following the world closes the door on God where we will receive better gifts than what the world can give us.
Am I living a Christ-focused life? I want to think yes, but to be honest, this is something I need to work on. Attending a public university and juggling my Master’s courses with teaching and working full time can be a challenge. I am guilty of putting God on the backburner so I can do all of these other things when in reality God should always be my priority. When people look at me and my life, is God the first thing that comes to mind? I’d like to think so, but I can’t help but think they see me as being a student or a social media marketer first and a Christian second. I need to fix this.
These verses really touched me today because 1. I need to get back to reading my Bible on a daily basis and not just immersing myself in his word, but LIVING his word and living for Christ and not the world. Also, 1 Corinthians 10:33 reminds me so much of my mission statement and what I want to accomplish in life; to please God. I am writing a novel not for my own gain and not for my audience’s gain, but for the glory of God. Everything that I do in life is for God’s glory and to honor and serve him and to share his love and his word with others. This is something that is so easy to forget and something I need to be reminded of. When I grow tired and when I question my work and why I am doing this, I remember him. None of this is for me, it’s all for him and I am exactly where God wants me to be doing the things he wants me to do for him.
So…writing about pineapples was pretty fun yesterday. Today’s topic? Much less than fun, though I’m betting I’ll have a better click through rate (CTR) on it. People apparently don’t care to read that much about my hatred of pineapples (their loss!), but always seem to be interested in relationship drama, or the lack thereof because ‘Merica.
For Day 11 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge I’m supposed to write about my relationship status, or lack thereof.
I’ve been single since October, so it looks like I’ll be discussing why.
I broke up with my boyfriend of 13 months in the middle of October, the night before we were supposed to go away for a weekend to celebrate our 1 year anniversary, something we had planned pretty much since we first got together. Needless to say, that trip never happened.
He probably thinks I broke up with him because he was sick and wasn’t sure if he was going to make it for our anniversary trip. Sure, it didn’t help at all. It was the final straw for me, really. But I’m not that heartless. Of course I didn’t just break up with him because he was sick. There was so so so much more to it than that.
I loved him very much, and the decision to walk away from our relationship was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also something that was very necessary.
I thought he loved me for the longest time. Our relationship meant the world to me. I would have done anything for him, and in many ways, I think I did. A year ago I swore we were going to get married. I thought that by now I’d be engaged, or almost engaged to him. I was so sure he was the one. But well, obviously I was wrong about that.
For awhile, the longer we were together, the closer we were going to get. I was a trucker girlfriend, and for awhile, the distance while very hard, was making us stronger. We, or especially myself, would get so excited to see each other because it happened so infrequently. If we saw each other more than twice a month it was unheard of.
I began to really identify as a trucker girlfriend at this time. That was my main identity and I was proud of it. I knew what I was doing was hard. What girl wants to be with a guy that she never ever gets to see? But I kept told myself it was worth it…I had a great boyfriend and we loved each other very much and it wasn’t always going to be this way.
Some days being a trucker girlfriend were harder than others. I would sometimes cry a lot because I missed him so much and I’d worry about him constantly. Sometimes it just got so lonely. I had a great boyfriend that I loved to death and who was my best friend. I wanted to do and share everything with him, but it oftentimes wasn’t a possibility because he always had to work and go out on the road.
Our relationship was becoming more and more serious. We even spent a week in Disney together! It was such a great time. I got to spend like 18 hours at a time with my best friend who I swore was the love of my life for an entire week. That was practically the equivalent of every day we’ve ever been together since we first started dating. It was so hard to go home and say goodbye to him after that.
I think Disney strengthened our relationship for awhile, but it didn’t last…
I think that some of the ways we viewed each other began to change after that. We began to realize we weren’t as similar as we thought we were, and even if we had a lot in common, our families did not.
Realizing this began to put a real strain on our relationship. Our parents never met, but if they did, I don’t think it would’ve went over well at all. We came from very different backgrounds. But we loved each other and that’s all that mattered, right?
But here’s the thing, when you’re raised a certain way you usually believe that is the “right” way and all other ways are wrong. It’s not intentional, it’s just how it is.
I was raised to value education and to work to have a nice home and a nice car and things like that and to take pride in myself and my things. Vacations weren’t a priority — they never really took place. We all worked, studied, and enjoyed our home instead. We weren’t overly luxurious people by any means, but we had nice, expensive things that we worked hard for. It was more important for us to use money on our home and car and education and things like that than it was to have a cheap home and car and go on vacation.
His family was the opposite of that. They “just wanted to have fun”. They did work hard – but it often seemed like for all of the wrong reasons. They were sometimes obsessed with having money, but they were greedy with it. It was spent on things like vacations — and they weren’t educational or what I’d consider “traveling” – they were amusement parks and always the same ones multiple times throughout the year every year — it seemed kind of unnecessary. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it just seemed a little weird because I wasn’t raised that way.
I think family had different meanings for both of us too. We were both close to our families but in different ways. Maybe we were in different parts of life. I wanted independence, but I wanted it with him. I was more than willing to be tied down to him. I wanted marriage and kids and a life of my own with my husband. He wanted to go on vacation with his parents and he did all the time. He’d choose that over spending time with me — and he’d choose it all the time. I wouldn’t have done it. I didn’t see him much. If it came between seeing my boyfriend more or going on vacation without him, I’d choose the option of seeing him more even if it meant giving up a family vacation or 2 (or like, 7).
As our relationship progressed, we learned more about each other and I thought more and more about our future and what it would be like to be married and raise a family together. But I stopped hearing the wedding bells. I didn’t see the love filled bliss anymore.
It was horrifying.
I saw a messy “home” in a run down trailer park in the middle of nowhere.
I saw old,broken, run down cars.
I saw my son who never saw his father and was always hurt and missing him.
I saw myself, a stay-at-home mother struggling to make ends meet and trying to explain to my children why daddy was never home.
I saw a garbage bin full of my hopes and dreams.
I began to question if this is what I wanted, and the answer was no.
That was not by any means the future I had imagined for myself or what I wanted. I wanted to go to New York. I wanted to finish my novel and be a bestselling author. I had a possible opportunity in California I wanted to explore. I wanted to go to grad school. I was considering getting my second cochlear implant since the first one was so successful.
I wanted to know that my boyfriend loved me as much as I loved him — something I was beginning to question.
I wanted a husband and a loyal father. I didn’t want to have to worry about daddy being home, where daddy was, what he was doing, whether or not he was safe, and when he’d be home.
I didn’t want to have to think of what to tell my children for why daddy missed yet another baseball game, another holiday, another birthday.
I didn’t want to live in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere.
I wanted a big house with a beautiful garden and nice lawn in a nice neighborhood. I wanted to know my neighbors and for their kids to be friends with my kids.
I didn’t want to be just a trucker wife that let her husband do whatever he wanted why she stayed home and waited for him.
I. WAS. SO. SICK. OF. WAITING.
I spent all of last summer doing nothing more than waiting. Waiting for him to call, waiting for him to text, waiting for him to come home, waiting for him to pick me up. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
And I was putting my life on the backburner. I was putting off my hopes and dreams and keeping myself from being who God destined me to be. I was a trucker girlfriend and that’s all I was. And it seemed like soon, that identity would be ripped away from me, too.
We were falling apart. We could no longer ignore our huge differences and our upbringings and who we were and what we wanted from life. Our future was becoming messy and muddled. The time away was getting to us. We were getting lonely. We were fighting. He was talking to other girls and cheating on me. I was getting mistrustful and paranoid.
I got kicked out of the trucker girlfriend groups. I never really knew why. But that’s when it felt like I really lost it all — because at the time, that’s all I had.
It felt like getting kicked in the face at first. I was already down and now the people who were supposed to be the only ones that could understand me, were kicking me further to the ground. But maybe, that’s exactly what I needed.
I needed to get angry. I needed to break. I needed to say “Screw this lifestyle. I’m not a trucker girlfriend…I’m so much more.”
After that I began to see myself as more than just a trucker girlfriend. I was a person with my own identity and my own hopes and my own dreams. I supported him and his career and his hopes and dreams so much…the least he could do was support mine, right?
I was unhappy at work. I needed a new job. But there was one thing I had going for me — awesome health insurance. I needed to take advantage of that and get my second cochlear implant while I could. I never understood why, but he was less than supportive. He was very pessimistic. He didn’t think insurance would cover it. He was so supportive with my first surgery, it was weird that he was the opposite with the second. But I was only just considering it — I didn’t know if I’d go through with it yet, so I tried to ignore it.
I was writing more and more, too. My memoir was about half finished. I intended to finish it during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I was very serious about it. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to get it published and I knew the perfect way to go about it — to go back to school and get my MA in Writing at Rowan. He didn’t support that either. He thought it was too expensive and I was already so far in debt. He wanted to help me. He would help me financially, I just had to wait for him to build up his career. I dismissed this, too, and tried to ignore it. He has a point, he was right. He said he’d help me. But I didn’t realize how I didn’t need his help at all. His money and his opinion didn’t matter at all.
Then there was California — which I couldn’t really ignore. I had a HUGE amazing opportunity that was about to come to light — but it would be in California. It was exciting, but also terrifying. It was all the way across the country. But it was the perfect opportunity for me. He drove and was on the road and never home anyway, so surely this wouldn’t mater that much, right? We’d just do a long distance relationship until we got married which would only be a little harder than what we were doing. But he didn’t see it that way. He wanted me to do what would make me happy whether it be California or staying with him. But I couldn’t have both. One or the other.
I’m sorry, but if he loved me, he wouldn’t have made me choose. He’d want to do anything to keep me, even if it meant moving to California (or at the very least, allowing me to go there) to be with me.This was a huge game changer and eye opener for me in my relationship.
I would’ve done it for him without thinking. I waited for him all the time. I compromised. I gave up so much of me and my life for him, but he wouldn’t for me. And it wasn’t all work, either. Sometimes I couldn’t see him because he chose his family over me. He’d rather go on vacation with them then see me. And I knew it and accepted it, as much as it hurt.
And I mentioned that to him then, too. You love your family more than you love me. I said. He admitted it. He said yes.
And it crushed me. Family is important — but I wanted to be more so. We’ve been dating for a year at that point. I wanted to BE his family. I wanted to be his wife, but I was realizing, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
I thought about everything. My hopes, my dreams, my love. I prayed a lot. I cried a lot. I went on a lot of walks to parks and random areas to sit and cry. At times I wanted to die. Other times, I felt like I was already dead. I had choices to make and it was terrifying. Where did I go? Did I take risks and try to follow my overly ambitious dreams? Did I give up my boyfriend — who might have been the love of my life and “the one” to do it? Or did I marry him and keep my mouth shut and settle down with a life that’s a bit less than what I hoped it would be?
It wasn’t an easy decision to make and it wasn’t something that was made over night. But after I read Thrive by Mark Hall from Casting Crowns, I knew my answer.
I have been surviving. Barely. More like struggling. Breathing through a clogged straw. Settling.
God didn’t make me to suffer. He didn’t make me to suffocate. He didn’t make me to settle. This is NOT how he wanted me to live my life.
I was made to THRIVE.
God didn’t want me to throw away my dreams for some boy. If he was really “the one” he would’ve supported me and my dreams and brought out the best of me. He wouldn’t have made me choose.
God wanted me to follow my dreams.
I gave him one chance. One more chance to prove he loved me that he could support me that this could work and that maybe he was the one. One more chance.
He blew it. We never went on our anniversary trip. Instead, we had a huge argument on the phone. I hung up. He never called back. I never bothered to apologize or forgive him for hurting me. It was the end of an era.
On that night, I decided I wasn’t going to be a trucker girlfriend anymore.
I was so much more than that.
I choose my dreams.
I have now been single for about 7 months. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I still really miss him. I still get mad that he never called me back. I still wonder what could have been. But I know this: my life got so much better when I stopped trying to be someone I wasn’t (a trucker girlfriend) and chased after my dreams and became the best possible version of myself.
I’m working a wonderful job now where I’m much happier. It’s not in California, but it doesn’t need to be. In the Fall, I will not only be a graduate student at Rowan, but I’ll be a college professor teaching first year writing, too! The first draft of my novel is complete and the second draft is about 90% complete. I’ll be focusing on this and trying to get it published through my career as a graduate student. I’ve gotten right with Christ and have even recently been baptized.
I’m not a trucker wife.
I’m a dreamer.
I’m a doer…doing BIG things.
And this is just the beginning.
I’m not opposed to the idea of being in a relationship. I could meet the right guy and end up in a relationship tomorrow (not likely, but you never know). If the right guy comes along I’d be more than happy to go out on a date and take it from there. But I’m really content with being single right now.
I know one thing, too. I will never put myself, my hopes, my dreams, and/or the person that I am on hold for a man. Never again.
Relationships are a two way street. Not one person supporting, loving, and doing everything for the other. For now on, I will always choose my dreams. And, the right person will be part of that dream. They will be for me and my dreams, not someone that will make me choose. Because when it comes down to “love” or my dreams, my dreams will win every time.