THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES by Joseph Campbell, struck a chord with me. In his study of world hero myths Campbell discovered that they are all basically the same story – retold endlessly in infinite variations. He found that all story telling, consciously or not, follows the ancient patterns of myth, and that all stories, from the crudest jokes to the highest flights of literature, can be understood in terms of the hero myth; the “monomyth” whose principles he lays out in the book.
Stories built on the model of the hero myth have an appeal that can be felt by everyone, because they spring from a universal source in the collective unconscious, and because they reflect universal concerns, the universal questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where will I go when I die? What is good and what is evil? What must I do about it? What will tomorrow be like? Where did yesterday go? Is there anybody else out there?In The Writer & The Hero’s Journey, Rob Parnell looks at the importance of the hero’s journey in the context of writing.
The hero’s journey outlined:
The hero is introduced in his ORDINARY WORLD where he receives the CALL TO ADVENTURE.
She is RELUCTANT at first to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD where he eventually encounters TESTS, ALLIES and ENEMIES.
She reaches the INNERMOST CAVE where he endures the SUPREME ORDEAL.
She SEIZES THE SWORD or the treasure and is pursued on the ROAD BACK to his world. She is RESURRECTED and transformed by his experience.
She RETURNS to his ordinary world with a treasure, boon, or ELIXIR to benefit his world.
He puts into words the answer to one of the questions I often ask myself. “Why do I write?”
As an over-analytical person, I often wonder about it. Why do I write after all? Put myself through this torturous process of continuously looking inside myself, dragging out those pieces that hurt, then put it out there for others to read. I die with each book. And am reborn a slightly better model. Laxmi 2.0, Laxmi 3.0, get it? Reading Rob’s book, I realized, I write to find myself. To understand the connection between the different parts of me. To hold on to the string that links me to the world. It’s my way of finding my own little place in this universe, within which I often feel lost.
Rob Parnell lays it out more eloquently. Here are some excerpts from the foreword of his book, which I often revisit
” … we’re engaged in our own personal hero’s journey – writers, perhaps more than most… If we are not tested by life we must often resort to testing ourselves, through intention, through ambition. But not in some idle way, It is our duty to push ourselves, to change who we are on a regular basis,…
The courage to say “I am a writer” is fraught with self-doubt and hesitancy,
The hero’s journey is a metaphor for the artist’s life: the journey from neophyte to master, from newbie to professional writer.
Human beings are surely not designed to be content to merely work for a living?
We must not fear independence of thought nor the loss of structured income generation. Because true self-determination is not just about being uncompromising, it’s about taking responsibility for one’s own life, one’s actions and thereby one’s destiny….”
And in one go then he laid bare constant story I am spinning in my head. That I am not good enough to write. That if I spend more time writing than in other more sanctioned-by-the-world pursuits that promise immediate commercial gratification, then I will suffer in some form. And perhaps this maybe true … But, which raises the question what level of having money is good or not good enough. Who set that level. Was it me, or the conditioning within me?
At a very simple level what I know is each time I write, and with each chapter I get out, there is this feeling in me. Something unlike I have experienced before. It’s not happiness, or joy or excitement. Just this silvery sense of something … When I am going in the right direction, in my story and in my life that feeling grows stronger. When I back away from it, it gets weaker, a bit like one of Spock’s tool to detect life forms on an alien planet.
And that’s it. It’s this feeling I pursue now. I go back to it to write my way out of a plot loophole. I check in with it, when I am trying to decide if I should go out tonight or if I should stay in and write. It’s all I have really, when I am writing a book, and when I am writing my life, because there is no-one to tell me if I am going in the right direction or not.
It’s why I know that the more I write, the more I also need up to store up new experiences. The kind that feeds my imagination. So I can stay fresh and join the dots in different ways to come up with unexpected results, that surprise my readers. You know, that old saying of output = input. And, which I know means at some point I have to leave the comfortable cave I am in now and get out to parts of the world I haven’t explored yet.
And Susan Quinn in her newly updated edition of Indie Author Survival Guide talks about it in a refreshing fashion. She speaks about the self-imposed barriers many of us have, which prevents us from jumping ahead, going boldly where we haven’t gone before. And, which you can as an Indie author you know? Claim your power, so to speak. What you do and can’t do is all in your head.
It’s something I am learning. Technology has set me free. It’s given me the tools and enabled me to get three books out. And now is the real test. Can I keep at it, keep pushing ahead breaking new ground every day, write what I fear the most?
Stay tuned to find out.
With thanks to Joseph Campbell, Rob Parnell & Susan Kaye Quinn
The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer (Ruby Iyer #1) is available hereThe Ruby Iyer Diaries (Ruby Iyer prequel) is now free on Amazon here
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