Monthly Archives: July 2013

52 in 52!

Okay – let’s talk about my little 52 in 52 project. I was perusing some of the writers boards looking for more examples/information of THJ and stumbled across this challenge that was given on the forums from one reader to his peers. That challenge was to read 52 books in 52 weeks.

The feedback on the boards was that this challenge was certainly demanding, but I thought doable. Looking back at the rate I was reading books over the past few months I had read 10, which is on pace for 52 in 52. (Wild from lost to found on the Pacific Coast Trail, Divergent, Insurgent, The Fifth Wave, The Old Man’s War, 10 Big Ones, Eleven On Top, Reconstructing Amelia, Where Did You Go Bernadette?, Crazy Rich Asians, and Cinder). Granted, several of the books were super easy YA ‘novels’ and a couple of Stephanie Plum Bounty Hunter books – but I figured, I could keep the pace and throw in some real literature in between the airplane/vacation brain candy.

So I started my 52 in 52 endeavor with the latest JK Rowling thriller, written under the nom de plum Robert Galbraith. JK is sort of my idol. She started with the Harry Potter idea while on a delayed train with little formal writing education and living on welfare. She submitted her manuscript to 12 publishing houses, all of which rejected her, until she found a publisher who was interested in her story, because his daughter read her first chapter and immediately demanded the next. They gave her a small advance to keep going. After five years, she was a multimillionaire, and eventually became one of the most influential people in the world and richest people in the UK – impressive. Plus, she wrote some of my favorite books ūüôā ).

Anywhooo – The Cuckoo’s Calling is much different than the Harry Potter series. Not to say it’s bad, just not as supernaturally gripping as the latter series. This story is about a down and out detective with a temp assistant who would love to be a detective, investigating a childhood friend’s famous sister’s death. The death of his sister was ruled a suicide, but the brother doesn’t believe it, hence the hiring of the private det. I am about 20% in and will keep going.¬† Love all the British terms in the book (rubbish, pence, flat, tube, etc.), though it does slow down the reading to make sure I’m envisioning the scene correctly.¬† My dad is reading the book as well – so it is fun to compare notes.¬† Also, It’s been a while since I’ve read a ‘serious’ detective novel, so reading this genre is good for my learning about prose, construction and how a detective thriller fits with THJ.

To keep up with my 52 in 52 I need to finish up this week. I do have several plane trips upcoming though to catch up if need to make up some time if this novel takes me a bit longer than a week to read.¬† On to reading…

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Chainsaw Massacre and other moments in the journey

During our jaunt through the dog park this morning we chatted about my use of the ‘hero’s journey’ to introduce my blog. Paul (hubby, and going forward will be known as “P”) was poking me a bit for portraying myself as the hero of this journey. While I AM the ‘hero’ of my blog, because I’m the narrator, there is a bit more to it.

Let me ‘splain… as mentioned before, I’m currently enrolled in a novel writing class at my alama mater (University of Washington), in the second of five classes we learned about Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” (THJ) aka “The Monomyth”. The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, movies, tv show episodes and more. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization. THJ uses 17 steps broken into three sections to help drive the story. They are illustrated in the image here.

Our professor used several examples of how THJ is utilized in movie storylines (e.g. Star Wars, Alien, The Wizard of Oz, American Beauty) and it was pretty remarkable how they all followed this pattern, even those that hit the silver screen far before Joseph Campbell did all of his research to create this pattern.¬† His research did pull from ancient myths and¬†folklore, showing that good storytelling usually follows a pattern. Our assignment is to determine how our novel (ha!) follows or doesn’t follow THJ.¬†¬† I have 3 novelettes from the past 3 NaNoWriMos¬†– all three pretty, pretty horrible, but talking them over with P we figured out what they might be missing to actually fit THJ and I feel a renewed interest in possibly finishing them!

Anywhoo, I thought it would be worth clarifying how THJ is also my hero’s journey.¬† I am exploring novel writing, blogging AND trying to read 52 novels in 52 weeks for inspiration and education.¬† We shall see if I follow the 17 steps in my journey.¬† Steps covered so far:

1) Ordinary life (and it’s a fun one no doubt… no NEED to take this journey, but usually that is how these things start)

2) Call to Adventure (embarking on this 52 in 52, blogging, learning about novel writing, classes classes and more classes)

3) Refusal of the Call (P saying… oh K, you don’t want to do all of this, when will you get to see the P!)

4) Supernatural Aid (finding a mentor) (you COULD say that my UW class is this, though that remains to be seen.¬† Perhaps this, complimented with discussion with my writing buddy in the class, reading up on nano and other writing boards, and¬†other education that I haven’t discovered yet will become this).

5) Crossing the First Threshold – is my next step.¬† Described like this: this is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.¬† This step could be accomplished by picking up one or all three of my past ‘novelettes’ from nano and actually working on them in earnest.¬† This weekend I’ll have to toy around with them to accomplish my homework for THJ, and we’ll have to see…

As an aside, our house exterior is going through a journey as well.  We are painting our exteriors and getting a new fence.  This morning I was up on a tall ladder using a chainsaw (RAWR!) to hack off some of the cedar branches that hung around our windows.  Talk about empowering and a journey!

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The (real) Hero’s Journey

The (real) Hero's Journey

A Hero’s Journey…

Okay, blog number one, today I am embarking on a journey,¬†I’d like to call it a¬†‘hero’s journey’.¬†¬†For the past few weeks I’ve been taking a novel writing class at my beloved University of Washington (go¬†DAWGS)…¬†While I would love to be¬†the next JK Rowling,¬†I know how rare a talent like that is, and for now¬†I’m just enjoying the learning and camaraderie.¬†¬†

One of the reasons I’d like to be a¬†writer is because I love a¬†good story, be it in movies or tv, books or video games (yes there are some great stories in video games these days), or the like – I appreciate all¬†different types, and love the satisfaction you feel when you get to the end of a show, book, game and it has a great conclusion.¬†

To prepare for this writing class and the upcoming NanoWriMo (in November…more on that later) I’ve been trying to read all sorts of different books and genres (in July so far I’ve read 5 different books ranging from mystery, comedy, sci-fi (with comedy!), and futuristic fairy¬†tale).¬†¬†While perusing some of the writing sites we’re learning about in class I found a challenge that I am going to undertake,¬†and perhaps write about it along the way.¬†

I, Kathy¬†Richardson, am going to read 52 books in 52 weeks.¬†¬†I just started reading¬†The Cuckoo’s Calling by¬†¬†Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling).¬†¬†I was on a roll prior to writing this commitment out… let’s see how I do now that I’ve proclaimed this mission to my readership of none.¬† ūüôā