Years ago, (don't ask me how many) I found a book called "The Writer's Journey" by a guy who taught at UCLA Extension named Chris Vogler. It has since become something of a bible in the screenwriting world when it comes to developing structure and it was based on Joseph Campbell's 1000 page epic, "Hero With a Thousand Faces," which, if I had two hundred years, I might attempt to plow through.
Vogler's book ( a condensed version) was kind of life changing for me. It was all about myth and The Hero's Journey. You know...character arc and figuring out how characters change in your story? Anyway, there are these stages that characters go through--out of the darkness and into the light? It's all very riddled with adventure and angst! At least, that's the way it's supposed to go. His title, "The Writer's Journey," eluded me for a while. I was so distracted, figuring out how my characters could use this structure in my stories.
But as I embarked on this new empty-nest chapter of my life (ie.-- flapping like an under-feathered baby bird in the grass, crying "Mommmeeee!") it occurred to me one sleepless night as I channel-surfed mind-numbingly bad infomercials that I had just stumbled into my own Inmost Cave! My own Tests, Allies and Enemies! The inevitable Crossing the Threshold! (Sorry, that's Vogler-speak for the *&^% is about to hit the fan!) All that I knew to be true was about to be tested. I was up a tree and some nameless force was throwing rocks.
What? I'm a character in my own life?? Hmm. This was an interesting concept. And as I looked around me, I realized it was true. And not in any archetypal sense either. For real. And most of my friends had inadvertently stumbled into it, too. We were all suddenly in this weird scary place, smack dab in the middle of our lives and none of us could figure out where the light switch was. The trick was, how to get to the other side with the prize. My own personal prize--if I could find it--would be to be figure out who I was. This new me.
I began to plot my way out of this fix. I decided to be--(er, I contemplated being) proactive, like any good hero. (Okay--in the interest of full disclosure, my husband latched onto this new idea with the optimism of man whose last floatation device has just drifted by.) He literally sent me dozens of emails during the day full of possibilities for story lines, ideas for jobs, connections for jobs.... Finally, he ran into a friend who had just come back from this fabu place in Vermont where she'd apparently unleashed the inner Her! She had a One-Woman show going up that had been part of a project she'd done for this place. My husband forwarded me the web site. Then, an application. He was relentless.
So, of course, I did the next logical thing. I applied for Grad school.
Be kind to yourself--Barbara