Donald Miller Told Me There Would Be An Inciting Incident.

by Chris Kamalski

IMG_0001. As in, my first shot on my Canon T1i Rebel. I actually like it quite a bit!

I woke up early on April 14th, eager to begin a fresh day disciplined and productive, seeking to create beautiful things. As I stumbled around gathering my computer and backpack, I realized that I had left said backpack near the dining table overlooking Pangani, the guesthouse NieuCommunities South Africa has called home for the past 8 years. A bit disconcerted, knowing that Pangani has been a target of crime at night for a long time, I hustled out of my room, only to find my backpack gone, files laying everywhere.

Heart racing, I took mental notes about what was lost. Computer: At bedside. Wallet: Taken out last night, thankfully. Passport and important financial documents: Missing. Canon Powershot SD750 digital camera, 7.1 megapixels: MY BABY IS GONE!

Positively paranoid now, I ran outside with Curtis Love, sure we wouldn’t find a thing, and realizing now that the wild barking we heard from the dogs last night was in fact real, and not another example of “Jesse and Chippy crying wolf.” Near a low wall where my ‘friend’ had apparently left our property with said backpack in hand. Unconcerned that he had left my passport and all financial documents in the struggle with our dogs, I realized in a second that my camera was gone. Oh the horror!

Moaning about this to my lovely South African lady Maxie a few moments later, I was surprised by her response: “Um, Chris…how about you take your new camera, purchased specifically to explore photography more seriously, out of its still sealed box, and begin actually using it for something good? What if you took a few photos each day for a year to learn about this new baby, and to step up in practicing an artistic discipline that you are naturally gifted in, yet know so little about?”* (*: Taking a little artistic license here with Maxie’s actual words…but this was the spirit they were spoken in!).

Firmly frustrated at her, and motivated to show everybody I could do something like this, I promptly unwrapped my new Canon Rebel T1i, and snapped the shot you see above…

“A general rule in creating stories is that characters don’t want to change. They must be forced to change. Nobody wakes up and starts chasing a bad guy or dismantling a bomb unless something forces them to do so. The bad guys just robbed your house and are running off with your last roll of toilet paper, or the bomb is strapped to your favorite cat. It’s that sort of thing that gets a character moving.

The rule exists in story because it’s a true thing about people. Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, and so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort isn’t all that comfortable. And even if they secretly want for something better…People fear change…Though their situations may be terrible, at least they have a sense of control; at least they know what to expect. Change presents a world of variables that are largely out of their control…[People are] afraid to choose a better story” (Donald Miller, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, pps 100-101].

James Scott Bell writes “An inciting incident is a doorway through which a protagonist cannot return.” Little did I know that my conversation with Maxie, following the theft of my beloved little digital camera, would provoke me on a journey of taking photos each day for a year. A discipline I am calling Project 365, I have now taken photos for over 7 1/2 months straight, and am pursuing some more advanced photography classes in early 2011 at a sweet design school here in Pretoria.

Thus, I proudly introduce to you Project 365, a year-long series of images presented once each day on my new website, from December 1st, 2010 until November 30th, 2011! Enjoy the first 2 images in this series by clicking here: