Wednesday, June 15, 2011

HJ4W-3 Refusal of the Call

Writing Wednesday - The Hero's Journey for Writers

Last week we talked about the Call to Adventure, the heady moment when something has changed and you have a chance to leave the Ordinary World. The thrill of the possibilities offered by the adventure is inevitably followed by the terror of all that could go wrong during the adventure, and with it comes the temptation to Refuse the Call.

Structurally, as Kim Hudson* points out,
"The Refusal of the Call expresses what's at stake for the Hero. It is an opportunity to spell out the grave dangers that lie ahead and the many ways the Hero could die an excruciatingly painful death."
I'm sure none of us believe that writing a novel carries with it the risk of dying an excruciatingly painful death (although there are enough dissidents and free-thinkers who have wound up on the receiving end of the full weight and sanction of the legal systems to which they were subject that we have to admit it's a possibility). But we do run a real risk of dying an emotional or social death should we fail.

What if we're wasting our time?
What if we're no good?
What if everyone finds out we're no good?
What if we don't like it but can't stop because of what we told our friends?

There's no end to the doubts and the fears because most of them are quite rational. Like the hero in the story, there are real, non-trivial things at stake for you personally as you face this undertaking.

Perhaps the most useful thing I can say is that, like buyers remorse, these fears are natural. They're also necessary. The worth of the prize to be won is directly proportional to the risk of failure.

* Kim Hudson, The Virgin's Promise

Image: Simon Howden /

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, I ask myself those questions all the time. Especially when my other job is super demanding and I really feel stressed out. I never thought about it as a refusal of the call, like that part of a novel. Interesting way to look at it. Thanks.


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