Hero’s Journey: Writing

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We’ve started to study the hero’s journey a bit in class lately, and I decided that I wanted to try to map out my own hero’s journey. I’ve been curious to see if I have enough experience in life to show a full hero’s journey, so let’s see how this goes (I’ll be focusing mostly on my experience while writing).

  1. The Ordinary World: I grew up going to a private school. Nothing extreme or out of the ordinary. I had friends, a pet, homework, hobbies, etc. I was a normal kid trying to get through each school year with a 4.0 GPA. By no means was I popular or sporty, and I never really liked sharing my drawings with others, since I felt I was easily outdone by the other art kids in our small classes. I wasn’t particularly outspoken or loud. I was just an average, introverted kid with a low self esteem regarding art.
  2. The Call to Adventure: In my last year at the private school, we were about one semester in when our teachers announced that we’d be spending the last half of the school year taking “Language Extension,” which basically meant we would spend the last period of every other day sitting in some English teacher’s classroom, working with awful writing prompts to encourage us to be creative. After everyone collectively groaned, our teacher told us there was a different Language Extension class we could take. She called it the “Short Story Class,” and explained that anyone who joined would spend the semester working on writing a whole story, instead of a handful of mini ones based on mostly trashy prompts.
  3. The Refusal of the Call: Of course, I wanted to join. My best friend and I basically read each other’s minds and signed ourselves up about 2.3 seconds after this was announced. I was worried, though. I didn’t think I’d be all that great. I had ideas bouncing around in my head, but I didn’t really have a way to concentrate all of them into one place. I didn’t back down, though. This was something I had to do. If I couldn’t come up with a short story in this tiny class that automatically gives you a 100% as long as you show up, how could I possibly do anything bigger in the future?
  4. Meeting a Mentor: Oddly enough, my best friend/co-author and I didn’t really have a mentor. We were armed with half-baked ideas, a basic knowledge of writing from reading several fiction book series, and the ability to write a five paragraph essay thanks to our English teachers. The instructor of the class left us alone as long as we had typed at least one sentence in the class period. So, we kind of became each other’s mentors. We worked together to form a basic outline of our story, throw together some characters, and build a setting. Before we knew it, we were ready to get started.
  5. Crossing the Threshold: It took us a little while to have something solid. In fact, we started Chapter 1 when my best friend sent me an excerpt she’d written based off of ideas she’d gotten while in the shower. We dove in after that. We were entering a new world. Things started fairly slowly. We each wrote from a certain characters point of view, and had about two POVs per chapter. Chapters were written when we had the time, and we pushed along. Then we got faster. Weekends became hours spent sitting in front of the computer, studying what we’d written for mistakes or places to improve. We’d text back and forth, watch while the other wrote, spit out random ideas that worked their way into the story until we were basically machines. We had a full week off in February, and we were cranking out close to three chapters every day, not to mention getting ready for the next few chapters and toning up our previous ones. It’s quite possible that we wrote half of our first book over that week.
  6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: As time went on, we’d built for ourselves a magnificent universe of mythical beings and creatures we could only dream of. And we continued. We loved our world, our characters. They were our escape. Once we finished our first draft of book one, we took a deep breath. A month or two later, we were at it again. Book two. However, it didn’t come as fast. The high was past, and though we had plot ideas, the class we were in was coming to a close with the school year, and the same motivation we’d had for book one was fading. On top of this, our parents hated seeing us sit in front of our laptops every day, despite our protests and explanations of the things we were working on. We were getting stuck and frustrated, not with each other, but with ourselves. Personally, I started doubting my abilities as a writer.
  7. Approach:  Stress levels were high. Graduation was around the corner. I was chosen to present a speech to an auditorium full of my peers and their relatives. At this time, if my memory is serving me, I believe book two was coming to a close, if it hadn’t already. We may have already started book three. I am uncertain. It blurs together. I remember, though, the lives I have created in my head, the stories we have told. The escape we made together was what kept me sane.
  8. The Ordeal: The chaos collides, entirely engulfing all of our time. We have finals, graduation, after parties, high school preparations. Everything seems to flood our lives at once. However, it’s over as quickly as it came on. It all happens so slow, but so fast. Tests, rehearsals, paperwork. It vanishes almost instantly. If only these were the last of our problems. We have an entire summer to write our final book, then move onto the prequel and follow-up series. Unfortunately, writer’s block set in, and was not kind. Despite our best efforts to plan ahead for the chapters, it felt like some POVs were simply fillers. We beat it, though. We finishd book three and brought our trilogy to an end, still full of plans on where to take this series next.
  9. The Reward: It was finished. Then, we were about six months into this project. Three books had been written, each containing thirty chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. Our goal was met. We were complete. We had done what we never dreamed we would get to do. No one’s approval was needed, though it was nice to have. We were completely confident in what we’d created, and it seemed nothing would tear us down from our pedestals.
  10. The Road Back: There was excitement, happiness, joy. Every good feeling there was to feel. However, the monster of doubt lurked, still. Time passed, until we nearly reached the present. We looked back on these first drafts of our stories. We took pride in them. We loved them. We lived them. Suddenly, they’re not as good as they were before. Looking at them was comparable to staring into the sun for hours. It hurt. A lot. It felt like all of the wonderful feelings we stole from the monsters of our lives, the ones that stole our time, our ideas, our happiness, were being taken back by doubt. Can we get this series published one day? Will the characters we’ve come to love ever be loved this way by others? Will our escape be someone else’s treasured exit from reality? Is this good enough? Are our writing skills good enough? Are we good enough?
  11. The Resurrection: This is today. The present. We are still locked in combat with doubt. We will win. We are preparing to take our work and revise it all until we break our fingers from typing. This is a world we created. It will not exist in vain. One day, we will win the ultimate victory. Our escape will extend farther than we dare dream. It is the sweetest triumph. We win not only for ourselves, but for others, for the people who escape with us.
  12. Return with the Elixir: To be determined. 😉
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