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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