Monday, November 8, 2010

Guest author Carleen Brice: One Writer's Journey Part 2

In Part 1 of One Writer's Journey Carleen Brice explored three aspects of the mythical hero's journey as it pertains to the writer's journey: 'the call to adventure' (the call to write a novel), 'the special place' (the world of publishing), and 'the rough landing' (where the bruised hero/writer discovers the special place can be exhausting, frustrating or disorienting.

Today Carleen concludes with the final parallel: 'the elixir or reward'.


At the end of the journey, hero brings back the reward, the hero’s journey folks call it “the elixir,” to share with others.

That’s what I’m doing today. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “I have been to the mountain top.” (Well, maybe the mountain middle.) I have seen some things and learned some things and the purpose of that is to share it with others.

So here goes:

Answer the call. Honor your heart. I sincerely believe the dream to be a writer (or whatever) is there for a reason. Honor it. Respect it. Vogler says persistent refusal of the call leads to disaster. In the Gnostic Gospels, the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

Learn who your allies and your enemies are. You going for your dream is bound to make someone around you uncomfortable because they are not going for their dreams. They may take it out on you. Try to send them love and don’t let them stop you.

You’ll fight for your dream with everything you are worth, but try to put some distance between you and your work. Try to know that you are not your book. That will help you when you get a bad review or a rejection letter. It will also help you stay sane if you’re lucky enough for someone to like your work. I recommend watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED speech.

From Vogler: “Trust the path. It means when you are lost and confused you can trust the journey that you have chosen, or that has chosen you. It means others have been on the journey before you, the writer’s journey, the storyteller’s journey. You’re not the first. You’re not the last. Your experience of it is unique, your viewpoint has value, but you’re also part of something, a long tradition that stretches back to the very beginnings of our race. The journey has its own wisdom, the story knows the way. Trust the journey. Trust the story. Trust the past.

The capriciousness of the gods. Or luck. Being successful has a lot to do with luck. I believe to some degree in attracting things to yourself. But I know too many people praying too hard and writing their affirmations and trying to draw success to them to not believe that luck has something to do with it. I can’t tell you how many writers got honest with me about being frustrated that their books that got optioned years ago haven’t even gone into development yet, so how did my novel go from book to aired movie in two years?! For more on this, read J.A. Konrath’s great blog Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

Finally, know that the journey doesn’t end until well…until you do. I had been laboring under the “if/then” idea. If I get an agent, then I’ll be all right. If I get a publisher. If I win this award. If I get in that magazine. If my book gets optioned. If the movie actually gets made. Then, then, then, I’ll be okay. And what I now know is that there’s always another if/then situation up ahead. The writer’s journey, the journey of life, is not one great story, but a series. There’s always another adventure, another villain, another abyss. Another reward.

I wish you good luck and great success on your adventure!

Carleen Brice


Charles Gramlich said...

Because of things that happened to me when I first started writing, I became convinced for a while that I was NOT supposed to write. That I was being told by fate or whatever not to waste my time. I stopped numerous times but just couldn't stay away from it.

Carleen Brice said...

Charles, I think we get a lot of those signals, but the ones who CAN'T stay away are the true writers. Good for you!

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome back, Carleen!

I've enjoyed your articles. Lots of truth and wisdom that may be applied to most endeavors. The journey is what matters, not some ephemeral destination.

K.L. Brady said...

Quite a few gems of wisdom in here...including knowing your allies and enemies and understanding we're in a series of journeys. Really hit home.


allison said...

Enjoyed & gained much information from both parts of this article. Thank you for sharing.

Dave said...

Nice article. Kal Bashir has done a great job with the hero's journey over at ; suggest you take a look. It is deeper than it looks.

Barbara Albin said...

Guess we readers are lucky you have stuck with it. Thank you.