Screw the Writer’s Journey

003Screw this “Writer’s Journey” stuff already.

I mean, really.

Longtime readers know I have a pet peeve about the “my journey towards publication” thing. It’s not that I hold the effort to become a professional writer lightly – far from it – and I know it’s difficult when a writer is not yet published, but feels the pressure to start a social media presence. “You must have a blog!” they’re told. (I was.) But what the hell are they supposed to blog about? Reviewing other writers’ books is fraught. Few people have day jobs or lives interesting enough to make for a compelling blog – or they probably wouldn’t want to be a writer. Giving writing or publishing advice comes across as kind of fraudulent.

So I don’t blame them, all these people who title or subtitle their blogs “My Journey Towards Publication.”

(Even if I do roll my eyes a little every time I see it.)

But the metaphor is so cliché that it’s lost any meaning it once had.

That’s the problem with clichés. It’s not that they’re inherently evil – though to hear some advice-givers, you’d totally think so – it’s that they become placeholders, empty shells so weathered by overuse that our eyes pass right over them. They’re like plastic clowns outside the fun house at the old carnival on the pier. Once bright, fascinating, funny and unsettling, after years of sitting there, the colors have faded and they just look pitiful. Someone ought to fix them up, probably. After a while, you stop even noticing them.

I know, I know – this idea has been around for a while. A bit of slapdash research (i.e., two minutes of Googling) reveals that the well-known and oft-used screenwriting book by Christopher Vogler called – wait for it – The Writer’s Journey – was first published just over 20 years ago in 1992. And, yes, he based it on Joseph Campbell’s model of the hero’s journey, which was popularized around 5 years before that.

But, you know, there’s a lot of 80s stuff we’re not doing anymore. I do not stripe my eyeshadow, none of my clothes have 8-inch shoulder pads and I don’t even own a cassette deck. (I may have leg warmers tucked away – shh.)

Besides, “journey” does not give me a happy feeling. Is this just me?

I mean, a journey is a trial, right? Full of tests of character, dangerous situations and a hell of a lot of tromping along. Sure, we can think up how this parallels the endurance and persistence required to make it in publishing, but is this really how we WANT to model ourselves??

Why can’t we have the Writer’s Romp? “My Playful Path to Publication.

Or the Writer’s Rollercoaster. “I Rode Mister Twister 27 Times in a Row and Only Vomited Once.”
(A little nod in there for my Denver peeps – moment of silence for our stolen youth.)

Hey! There could be the Writer’s Grand Tour. “How I Wrote Nine Books in Ten Different Genres and Made Less than a Dollar a Day!”

SEE? Isn’t this already way more fun than the stinking “Writer’s Journey”?

Join the revolution, peoples! Re-envision your life as a writer. Hit me with your ideas!

As for myself, I’m totally working on the “Writer’s Beach Vacation.”

Bring on the cabana boys!

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