My Mentor Joseph Cambell

josephcampbell-450x450Within the current socio-political circus came the idea to write an article about the Hero’s Journey for the Visionary Fiction Alliance (VFA). Although the topic relates to myths and stories, we can also become heroes in our own journeys. Each completed cycle can be  an avancement in evolutionary growth that  continues until our last breath.  But sometimes we get stuck along the way.

BELLY OF THE WHALE

I stalled during the middle of writing the VFA post because the election led me to an existential crisis.  I found myself stuck in the belly of the whale stage of the Hero’s Journey.  Seeing people fighting each other in order to prop up two flawed humans made me question why many of us still place other humans above us.

“I stopped getting mad at politicians years ago and started getting mad at myself instead. The blame for the grinding dullness and depressing predictability of the current election cycle is on the electorate as much as it is on the candidates. That America gets everything it deserves and settles for is a hard truth to swallow. Maybe one day, we’ll get tired of choking on it.” Henry Rollins

Those of us who pulled out of the political church reach the same conclusion as Rollins. We become ideological atheists because we see that it’s our ideologies that are choking us. We’re the rebels that scream for the empire to topple, so we can live freely with one another. You might not hear us because we’re few in number, so we’re never really heard other than through podcasts or blog posts.   Instead,  we’re called crazy or mentally disturbed because we refuse to capitulate to majority groupthink. We have strength of mind and spirit and are immune to whatever names we’re called. Knowledge of our inner-truth is our shield. We’re  grounded in our spirit. But sometimes even hero’s fall and have to rise up again.

As I listened to the media, politicians, and some of their followers spew hatred and hypocrisy, I thought about the future my daughters would be growing up. I became despondent imagining what today’s children would be inheriting because of our shortsidedness.  That thought awoke a fear in me that I had to deal with.

IN A POSITIVE FREEFALL

How do we stay on the path when we’re facing our version of an empire run by  shadowy Darth Vaders? From beyond the grave, Campbell answered the question.

free_fall

“We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.” 

― Joseph Campbell, Sukhavati

FREEDOM TO LIVE

If hell is being created, I don’t have to play along. I can forge my own path. With that realization I was shot from out of the belly’s spout and on to the Freedom to Live stage of my journey.

Spiritual lessons never end. I find it more difficult now than before I started the journey. The more the veil is lifted, the harder I have to work to evolve. And since I evolved a little bit more with the writing of this post, I guess you can say this is a visionary post!

Please click here to read the article about how the hero’s journey relates to visionary fiction.

The Flow of Life, the Flow of Story Structure

Before I begin this post, I’d like to announce that I’ll soon be releasing the 2nd edition of Unison that will include a lexicon, cast sheet and behind the scenes look at what inspired me to write this novel.

Life has been very busy as of late. In addition to my writing, I homeschool and have become a soccer mom, girl scout mom and dance class mom. All the running around stressed me out a little, and I grounded myself with mindful awareness meditation. Little did I know that I was about to enter the ordeal stage of the hero’s journey when I was reminded how there are people who will attack you for reasons you may never know. It happened three times in one week! I didn’t respond to these people as I didn’t want to be pulled into their drama, which is what they subconsciously crave. Instead, I offered the individuals who challenged me love and kindness. I meditated until I felt it sincerely in my heart. By not reacting to the negativity, I uncover  lessons I need to learn, and I emerge stronger and more resolute that I’m on the right path. It never ceases to amaze me how negative people can help us grow positively! To quote the message my Higher Self sent me while meditating:

“It’s not about being right or wrong.  It’s all about the experience.”

That one little message from my meditation has saved me so many times and continues to help me grow. It’s the only way to live a happy and fulfilling life. It’s also something I teach my children. There will always be nasty and vindictive people in the world, and you’ll come out on top if you handle it with grace. You do that by continuing to do what you’re doing. If you’re on the right path, no one can knock you off of it, even with a mack truck!

Now on to the writing stuff!

Throughout these last few difficult weeks, I continued with my editing of The Sixth, which is the second book in the Spheral Series.  As with all my other novels, I plotted it using the hero’s journey and then fine tuned it with Dramatica, which helps me to detect plot holes, even before I begin writing.  The main reason I appreciate Dramatica is it presents the story as a grand argument. It taps into my inner-geek. I find that the emotional hero’s journey, and the intellectual Dramatica have almost a yin-yang quality when used together.  Interestingly, I was focusing on the ordeal stage of the hero’s journey for my story. Talk about synchronicity!

When Art Imitates Life

The ordeal is the eighth plot point in the hero’s journey. Ideally, it should fall at the halfway point of a novel. For some reason, which I’ve yet to figure out, this plot point always gives me the most trouble and is typically the last one to come together for me. And it usually does so when I edit. As I’m an organic writer, I don’t like to force a scene. I know that it will come to me when it’s ready to reveal itself. I was also reserved to the possibility that this story might not need a physical life/death ordeal. I had accomplished that symbolically and emotionally. In Unison, the shift was similar. My protagonist’s old way of thinking was forced out by a revelation that revealed a hidden aspect of himself. However, The Sixth is more of a straight-forward adventure. My intuition told me I needed a more active scene.

Before I went to bed, I’d asked for an ordeal scene to come to me.  I knew where it would most likely happen and envisioned the scene as I’d written it. Moments later, it expanded and played out before me, without words. (Verbal cues typically come to me in the morning, when I’m first waking up).  The next morning I wrote the scene while I sipped my morning Starbucks coffee. I’ll just state here that Stephen King was spot on when he said that if you have a great scene, you don’t have to write it down because you won’t forget it. Phrases are entirely different. I write them down as soon as they come to me.

I was a truly happy writer after I’d completed the scene. It added more intensity, deepened the characterization and foreshadowed the return of the elixir, the last plot point, in part three.

The best stories have constant motion. They keep moving even during lulls, and the goal should always be obvious, even when it isn’t outwardly mentioned. My writer’s intuition has strengthened to the point where I can tell when something is missing. Understanding structure keeps me from having to do many rewrites and gives me the confidence to know my story works before I write the first draft.

Love and light,

Eleni

Spiritual Objectivism – Part 5

I discussed the spiritual side of objectivism in my last post and will tie it all together with my writing in this post. I wanted to begin with my birthday, which happened on July 19, 2007.

What is death? The completion of this current life cycle. The perceived “I” will exist no longer.

After I typed the last line, it really hit me for it led to the real death of the perception of “I.” What is called, “Eleni” cried. I mourned the loss of the “I.” Daphne came in and asked me. “Eleni, what’s wrong? It was odd…and fitting…that she called me by my first name. I told her, “I’m not real.” She laughed as well. This all relates to the “I’m not the meaning” quote sent to me by the Higher Self.

Daphne is my daughter, who’s now ten. She hasn’t called me by my first name before that date or ever since. That event was the proverbial icing on my cake. I completely detached from my self-perpetuated mythos. I’d rather leave the fiction for my stories. Writing my personal truth and being able to express myself authentically is what makes me love the craft of writing.

Connecting Spirituality to Objectivism

I appreciate the Tao Te Ching, and I think much of the philosophy included inside helps cultivate a spiritual/objectivist mindset.

Therefore the Sage is devoted to non-action

Manage the work of detached teaching,

Conduct the teaching of no words.

They work with myriad of things but do not control

(Excerpt from Verse 2)

When we seek to control, it does not allow us to grow. If we try to control others, we keep them from growing. That same mindset applies to those in power. Hence, a free society is conducive to personal and spiritual growth. It allows us to be authentic as opposed to existing to please and satisfy the state. I constantly work with these themes in my writing, on a societal and personal level, especially in Unison.

Stories that have always resonated with me have a protagonist who goes off alone to solve his or her problems. The hero’s journey is natural to humans, which is why these type of stories have been repeated for thousands of years. Epics that depict dystopias show us the horrors of what happens when we’re forced to submission, such as in the Hunger Games. Oddly, in our current reality, many people don’t notice we’re headed in that direction at lightning speed. It’s truly uncanny to watch history repeating yet again while most of the population goes about their day acting as though nothing is amiss.  It’s quite a surreal time to be alive.

Libertarian Science Fiction

I recently discovered the genre of Libertarian science fiction. I never knew such a genre existed, and it makes me wish Amazon had it listed as a sub genre under sci-fi because I relate to it strongly. If I were to define my fiction, the interior stories of my books are very spiritual in nature. The outer story—where all the action takes place, is pure objectivist, which works in harmony with the Libertarian perspective. I make clear that the power of the individual is above all governments and man-made institutions. After all, they’re only ideas. Why would we place ideas above the humans who created them? Never made sense to me.

My cover for Unison represents the release and circulation of knowledge through the ages. While we’re not mortal, the knowledge our mind creates is immortal. Even when governments try to suppress that knowledge, it always finds it’s way back in. Knowledge and invention constantly get reused and improved upon. This truth is comforting, especially at this historical crossroad we find ourselves in. Knowledge is suppressed, and fluff is presented as news and entertainment. That can’t go on forever, and I suppose that’s another major reason I’m motivated to write. I want my stories to show the reader who’s looking for an alternative to the mainstream that they’re not alone and maybe put a smile on their face while doing it.

 


The Tao verse comes from Derek Lins’s translation of the Tao Te Ching. I highly recommend his website, and you can get information on how to order his book. I highly recommend it as he also has some useful notes that accompany each verse.

My New Novel: From Start to Finish

I decided to blog about my current work in progress, Sunrise.  Writing about the joy and pain involved during the writing process sounds like a lot of fun, and I wish I  had done this with my first book, Unison, that is nearing the publication stage.  Sunrise is my third planned release. I’m aiming for December 31 2012—depending on who’s interpretation of the Mayan calendar is correct.

I would like for this blog to inspire both new writers and pros alike. It’s sometimes nice to remember we’re not alone in our neuroticism…and you’ll see a lot of that aspect of me  in future posts. What tempers this part of myself is that writing has evolved into a form of meditation for me. When I write, I connect to something that’s larger than myself and from there inspiration never ceases. Find this place yourself, and you’ll discover writer’s block is a myth. Once I found it—and learned to connect to it at will—the idea and plotting stage of a novel evolved into my favorite part of writing process.

The spiritual nature of my writing will more than likely be the undercurrent of future blogs as it’s what keeps me tethered to the craft of writing and storytelling. No matter how many times I sit down to write, the very place from where ideas come from never fails to both amaze me and humble me. In my next blog I’ll discuss what point of view I selected for Sunrise, why I selected it and the challenges that it’s giving me. This is one of the most important decisions to make when starting a novel as it’s the point of view that ties the whole story together.