Answering The Call To The Writer’s Journey

Once you open the magical door, you never know what might walk in. Once you open the magical door, you never know what might walk in.

(C: My first experience with this was a True Confession story I wrote in the mid-70's.  All of a sudden I was writing down what I was "watching" and I was excited because I didn't know what they were going to do either, except I know the boy and girl would end up living happily ever after, because that's just how I roll.  My second was a story about Hemingway in which my Hemingway character said things that I later found, almost word for word, in an interview Hemingway gave shortly before his death. It was a fairly obscure interview, and Hemingway fan though I am, I'm quite positive it could not possibly have been something I'd read.)

I could go on. Part of this is, I’ll grant you, your subconscious at work.  Any really good writer has to let go and learn to trust his subconscious. The subconscious adds echoes and fills in thin places and sometimes makes the world “real” even if your conscious beliefs are at odds with reality.  (All the progressive authors who write believable heroes and villains, for instance. Joss Whedon’s creation of Firefly.)

But another part is something else. If I were a Jungian I’d suspect I’d been traipsing through the collective subconscious.

These gifts of the deep levels of the brain are so strange and inexplicable that one of my friends – Kate Paulk – calls it Gateway Writing.

Having run into a few of these, Charlie and I were discussing it, and thought it would make for an interesting series on the creative process and how to trust your own inner writer. Because trusting yourself and your voice is at least half the battle to becoming a writer – or a good one.  This is part of Dean Wesley Smith’s article this week, and if you’re a writer you absolutely should go read it. (C: What she said.)

I propose that we follow the structure of the Hero’s Journey for these posts.  (There is a book called The Writer’s Journey) which I read many years ago, and which compared the development of the writer with the mythical Hero’s Journey  I haven’t touched it in years, but I’ve brought it out and put it on my desk today. I shall refresh my memory.)

Like the hero about to embark on an adventure the writer starts in the real world. This is the quotidian reality all men experience.  Can we set off to create new worlds if we do not enter another world?  Can we answer the call and remain unchanged?


images courtesy shutterstock / MoreenBlackthorne / Ellerslie