As I embark on the process of trying to get the trust of my story and draw it to me, I keep myself busy by reading around the subject of writing. There are so many books there which extol the virtues of planning and setting rigorous writing targets. I know that in time, when I actually put pen to paper, this guidance will be of use.
However at present I am sitting still and waiting for my story to present itself. I have had a tendency to rush into new projects with all the joy and enthusiasm of a five year old at the art table.
I get easily burned and so I am learning to be still and rest. Not just into my story but also into the whole idea of myself as Writer.
I have hidden from it for so long. So afraid to truly embrace that this crazy stuuuuupid idea is not going away.
I think that is why the Hero’s journey a la Joseph Campbell by way of Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
strikes such a chord with me.
Because the fact is that writing a novel is a journey too. We must be heroic to face this challenge. We must as writers step out of the ordinary world and accept the challenge.
Yes I can use the hero’s journey as a nifty little plotting tool, but perhaps I can also use it as a guide on my own journey through the writing process. I know that I will have to tackle my demons if I am to write this story. I know that there will be threshold guardians (possibly the bank manager….) I will meet allies and make enemies (not you dearest reader, I hope!).
So for those of us who are embarking on this journey, here is the route that lies ahead:
1. Ordinary World – you know, just trundling along finding distractions to make you feel normal and pay the bills.
2. Call to adventure – it’s the middle of the night and The Story arrives and won’t let you go. Or (as it was for me) you are washing the dishes and a whole world opens itself to you whispering “write me, write me…”
3. Refusal of the Call – “me? A novelist? Don’t be stupid – I have responsibilities, jobs to do, things to finish off. It’s not the right time. I would if only I had…. I’m not good enough…. What’s the point…”
4. Meeting with a mentor – website, youtube, library, amazon – mentors are everywhere these days, don’t you know! Just take your pick. WARNING: just the act of choosing a mentor can be a subtle form of procrastinating, perhaps??
5. Crossing the first threshold – could be buying a new notebook and scribbling down your notes, could be opening up a new file on the computer and trying for those first few words. The blank page is our first threshold as writers and the thing that makes it such a challenge is that the page represents all our fears, insecurities and limiting thoughts.
6. Tests, allies, enemies – oh this will be a journey of stamina. Perhaps we will meet allies through social media. Perhaps the enemy is time, space, “real life”, stamina, discipline – you name it, they are all going to come out of the bag when you attempt a literary marathon.
7. Approach to the Inner most cave – I imagine that this will probably hit at around 35 000 words when I suddenly feel uncertain as to whether I can even make 40000 words let alone 90000. Here is where I will face my fears…
8. The Ordeal – do I continue or do I abandon? Do I allow my fears as a writer to tell me to stop being so stupid and get a real job, or do I push through and use all my strength to finish the task?
9. Reward – the first draft is done…. time for a coffee and a nice slice of cake. Perhaps even a trip to the Office Supplies store???
10. The road back – editing, redrafting, printing off the first draft and feeling inordinately pleased with myself
11. Resurrection/ Climax – “this first draft is absolutely rubbish. It needs completely redoing. Why did I ever think that I could be anything? Why did I waste my time?”
12. Return with the elixir – publication? the call from the agent? hollywood battle for the rights? multimillion dollar advance??? Or perhaps just the wondrous satisfaction of knowing that I finally finished my novel. I battled with my demons. I did it. Little old me…
Who knows how my journey will turn out as a novelist. But here is where I begin. I am still in the ordinary world at present but I have had my call to action, mentors are presenting themselves to me.
The Threshold Awaits…..
What teachers have helped you at the start of your writing journey? I would love some recommendations for great writing resources and inspiration. Post a comment below.
ps the book I was referring to can be found here. The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
- Hero’s Journey Resources (knightofswords.wordpress.com)
- The Hero’s Journey – Turning Point #4…AKA When I Lost My Mind! (radefranco.com)
- Surviving The Hero’s Journey (stephencmonahan.wordpress.com)
- Therapy and the Hero (potentialnotpathology.com)