Here I am crafting my latest story, mostly plotting right now. Using myths and age-old storytelling tricks to bend and twist my emerging book into shape. If you read Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With A Thousand Faces,” then you may know about how every story is at heart really an adventure, with a usually reluctant hero facing an uncertain road fraught with dangers.
Well, even as I came up with new twists and turns on the road of the hero of my story, I myself felt like a character in the Universe’s manuscript this week. Because you see, I had my life all planned out. I finally decided to stop stressing over getting a job, or signing that contract. Forget the restlessness, I told myself, why the uncertainty, when my life is already perfect! I am spending time with my family. I am writing, revising, taking classes, reading books, walking my dog. Every day, I am learning.
I already am living my dream. I am writing every day, aren’t I? What can be better??
And then, came the call.
Ah, you writers out there are probably thinking I’m talking about THE CALL — the one so many dream about – the agent’s voice on the telephone asking you if you’re ready to sit down – the sound of dreams coming true.
No, my friends. Storybook heroes rarely get what they want when they expect it. And so it was with me, too.
What I got was the call of adventure.
In books and movies, it is usually in the form of out-of-the-blue news– in some stories the news are outright unwelcome, the sounds of a disaster.
My call was actually pretty cool as far as calls of adventure go. It came from a friend and editor of a local news site saying she was moving and quitting her job, and that I would make the best possible replacement for her.
Wow. Talk about wow.
My first reaction was that of a good girl. Oh great! I am needed! Somebody wants me!
Next, I thought, wait a minute. What about those dreams? What about the things that I want?
So, I became what is commonly known in storytelling circles, a reluctant hero.
I grieved for the things I would lose.
I took a few days to think about it, even as I was sure, that as tempting as the offer was, I would ultimately end up saying “no.”
But even as I kept figuring out my fiction story’s plot, I found some answers there. Main characters often resist or fear change. But, in the end, change is the thing they have been needing all along. The call — that thing they didn’t expect — it propels them forward, thrusts them into adventure, forces them to give up some things for the good of their society and /or their loved ones. In the end, this change gives the hero what she really needed all along, (plus maybe, just maybe, the thing that she wants, thrown into the mix as a bonus — just tossing some ideas your way, Universe)
It is a little scary to find myself on the threshold of my own adventure. Someone who is used to putting her characters through all kinds of torture — ahem, I mean, adventure — knows only too well what will come next. There will be “tests of strengths and cunning,” ” false victories” and “false defeats” (that I got from Blake Snyder’s “Save The Cat” trilogy on screenwriting, excellent stuff, I tell you). The adventure guarantees plenty of dark moments before the journey is complete. (Do I sound a little nervous?)
I have made the choice. Because the thing that gets the hero through it all? It’s faith.
So, here we go, Universe. I am going to take a deep breath, and trust you.
Next week, watch for a post on more practical matters of what I will be doing, and what this will mean for my writing — and for this blog.