Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quest: The Quest of the Writer

    Many of you have probably heard of Joseph Campbell's 'Quest of the Hero,' basically the common steps heroes take throughout the story to achieve the story goal. These steps have been applied to such heroes as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.  But, I wonder if similar steps can be applied to the Quest of the Writer/Editor? Some of the steps are listed below as well as how I think the Quest of the Writer can be applied to them (source):
The Call to Adventure
When the writer feels that  writing bug ... a story must be told and it is deep within the writer's heart. 

Refusal of the Call
 The writer may say "I can't write," or "This will be too hard to do."

Supernatural Aid
 ... but the inspiration is still there and that little muse says, 'You can do this, I will help assist you if you just have a little faith in your abilities."

The Crossing of the First Threshold
 The author crosses into unknown territory and embarks on writing the first draft.

The Road of Trials "The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation." Applied to the writer, this could mean maintaining the persistence to complete the first draft, editing the thing even when the challenges seem unsurmountable. 

Woman as the Temptress "At one level, this step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which ... does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman." Applied to writing and editing, this could be any type of temptation to leave the work behind, particularly when it becomes very challenging.

Apotheosis "To apotheosize is to deify." During the writing and editing process we defy the urge to quit, knowing that we are honing our craft and creating art.

The Ultimate Boon "The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest." Self-explanatory ... reaching the finished product of our novel, short story, memoir, etc, and feeling proud about it. Perhaps even getting published if you're lucky and persistent enough.
    The Crossing of the Return Threshold
"The trick in returning [to where we were prior to our writing journey] is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world."

So my questions are, when you go on the Quest of the Writer and complete the Quest, what do you usually learn from it? How do you integrate what you have learned into your every day life, and is the journey more important to you than the goal?

Have a great day!


  1. Good one today! (well, they all have been). The goal is more important than the journey, but I've learned to enjoy the journey.

  2. Hi Em-Musing. For me the goal is very important, but I'm wondering if the journey is more important to me in terms of writing. I have seen my growth throughout the years, not just into becoming a better writer (I hope ;) but also learning to let go and see where the process takes me. For example, one of my goals is to be published, but is this in my control? Does it mean I have failed my quest if that doesn't happen? Just some food for thought. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Interesting about the woman as the temptress; it's pretty conventional but to see it spelled out like that is a little disconcerting in our (supposedly) post-feminist age (I don't really buy that we are post feminist given concepts like this exist and are still widely used!)

    I won't derail your post any further though, as this discussion has been better said by others than myself. But it is frustrating to see how women are used to move plot forward for the hero (assumed to be male). I totally get the overall point that it doesn't have to be a woman, but then... why say woman as temptress at all?

  4. I agree with you re: temptress thing. I found that a bit jarring too ... that's a whole other debate though ... maybe I should do a post on how archaic the 'quest of the hero' is lol.

  5. On a micro level, every draft I write and every project I edit teaches me about writing.

    On a macro level, writing and editing taught me patience, focus and determination. :-)

    1. Hi Misha. I hear you about the patience part. Writing is teaching me this also!