The Hero’s Journey is something all of us writer’s have heard at one time or another. Most often it is associated with an epic quest, one small Hobbit must journey forth into a great and dangerous world to try and effect what ever good he might, or one young woman must take her sister’s place in a high stakes game of death in order to protect her family and herself from what she views an ultimate tragedy. Yes, the hero’s journey isn’t going away anytime soon.
But how might a writer’s life mirror that epic quest proposed by Mr. Joseph Campbell? For myself, my departure into the world of storytelling and craft was two fold. When I was in third grade my mom and dad read the entirety of the Lord of the Rings out loud to me. This was before the movies came out, and they were both very good at voices. My dad was particularly good at bringing Gollum to life… To this day I’m sure Peter Jackson called my father at some point to ask for pointers on bringing the character to life!
The second half of my departure came much later. I’d gotten into music (I can rip on electric guitar if you’ll allow me to toot my own horn for the space of a line). In college I’d found the components of a band. The Living was comprised of a drummer and music major, another guitarist who knew quite a bit about music theory… and quite a bit less about how to work with others and how to compose music, and then there was myself, who believed in my naïveté that something like “The Power of Friendship” would see us through all odds and subsequently through the completion of the next great American record.
It took me less than a semester to realize how much time I was wasting. Ego is a hard thing to overcome in an individual, and it is a thousand fold harder to overcome in any group of 18 to 22 year old males. I think we would have had an easier time scaling Mt. Everest than trying to write a damn song. I was bitter coming out of that experience and recoiled into myself for about a year afterwards trying to figure out if I might have a shot at music as a singer/songwriter. Open mic nights are only gratifying for so long though, and in truth music has never had the same thrill as it did in high school and the first leg of my career in college when the sky was the limit and fucking anything was possible.
That’s when I started looking at writing again seriously. What did I like about music anyway? Well, my favorite songs told stories. Whether it be musically or lyrically my favorite songs had rising action, they climaxed, and they resolved with satisfaction. That is the love of a storyteller, and I tested my pen against my wit, producing a number of terrible short stories and loving every second of it… I’d found my wings once again.
My initiation was also twofold, but I’ve reached my limit for today. Let me say this, it involves one creative writing class which has without a doubt been a transformative force in my life, and Northern California Novelists (NCN). We’ll continue this little tale, and the exploration of the hero’s journey… and how it may just be the writer’s journey too, next time!
As always, thank you for reading,