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09-23 Getting to Know Leah Hammond, author of RISKY LIES

Saturday, August 15, 2015

HER BONUS STEP!

by Laurie Schnebly Campbell

            We've all heard of the Twelve Steps in the Hero's Journey, right? Maybe even written novels or screenplays using those steps, read Joseph Campbell's book, or taken a workshop on it.
            Confession time: I've never really GOTTEN the hero's journey. I know there are thousands of writers who swear by it -- there's clearly some value in those twelve steps.
            But for some reason, they've just never quite worked for me. My heroes don't meet wise mentors, don't face dark caves, don't return with elixirs. My heroes are guys who hear advice from equally clueless friends, occasionally get rained on at the ballgame, and maybe return with a beer.

            Same is true for my heroines. Swell women, all of 'em, but they're sure not out there staging interplanetary raids and facing down corrupt sheriffs and rescuing secret formulas.
            No, their journey is more internal. Even if they're taking off from their everyday life and flying to Cleveland, the challenges they face aren't the kind that'll have movie-goers crunching popcorn at twice the usual speed.
            Their challenges are more like our own.
            "My husband doesn't understand why I need time to write." "My best friend left the company and nobody else is as close." "I wish I could make Mom understand why I didn't choose her way."


            And, like most of our heroines, we occasionally settle for being less than we can be.
            Of course, by and large, we do a pretty good job of looking out for our loved ones and ourselves. We speak up eventually when something bothers us. We try something new every so often; we recognize that even if our dreams aren't practical they aren't stupid.
            But even so, we don't always live up to our highest self. We're not always the strongest, healthiest, wisest, best person we can be.
            And neither are our heroines.
            That's where we get to the Heroine's Journey. Just like every action hero goes through twelve steps, a heroine who hasn't yet achieved the victory of being her true self needs to go through thirteen steps.


            Each one of those steps takes her from being a person who depends on others for self-worth to a person who's innately worthy in her own right. She might start and finish the book as a scullery maid, but along the way she'll make a difference in her world and become her own person...usually for the first time in her life.
            She'll go through the steps that Kim Hudson, author of The Virgin's Promise, calls the Price Of Conformity, Dressing The Part, Caught Shining, and ten intriguing others. And each one takes her closer to the ultimate triumph.

            What's cool about this is that the heroine, like each of us, is involved with other people throughout her journey. And these people (often with the best and most loving intentions in the world) want her to stay where THEY think she belongs, rather than where she discovers she can truly become her best self.
            So that's where we get the payoff of the lucky thirteenth step -- because once she's her best self, she doesn't just go off and forget where she came from. She makes things better for those around her, as well, and that's what makes her a REAL heroine.
            We'll get into more detail on that next month at my WriterUniv.com class on "The Hero's Journey, For Heroines," but meanwhile I'd love to hear some real-life examples. If you've ever managed to go beyond the limits that other people set for you, could you say what you did? And if you'd rather I DIDN'T use your comment, please mention that...but somebody who comments will win free registration to the October class!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell always wondered what was wrong with her, not really GETTING the Hero's Journey, until she discovered its feminine counterpart. Then she got excited -- not only by the premise, but also by the chance to create a brand new class for WriterUniv.com. She can't wait to see who else shares her enthusiasm for characters making discoveries within themselves, as well as within the world...no matter what their gender.


41 comments:

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for Guesting at RTG, Laurie! And for offering one lucky commentor a free spot in your online class!

I returned to college after I was married with three kids and earned a Bachelor's Degree. This was at a time when returning students were a rarity.

Judith Ashley said...

Great post, Laurie! Ditto what Sarah said about the class!

I quit my safe and secure civil service job and started my own consulting and training business in 1978. A year later, due to budget problems, the external consulting and training world shrank! I scramble and found other ways to earn an income without returning to a regularly paying job. The freedom and doing what I loved made the initially inconsistent income worth it. Good preparation for being an author!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Sarah and Judith, you're both wonderful examples of going beyond the limits in real life!

Although anyone who reads that sentence without having first read your comments might get a very misleading impression. :)

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

Gee, Sarah. I did the same thing! Well, I had two kids when I started college as a freshman, the third was born between my sophomore and junior years. I earned a bachelor's degree then went on for a master's in English. So glad I did!

Laurie--I'm trying to write a heroine right now who's on the heroine's journey.

Brandie said...

Hey Laurie! Some might say I've gone above and beyond in certain circumstances, but I don't think I've reached that point yet. I think it's a mental thing with me. My goals are changing because my life is changing, but hopefully one day soon, my answer will be different. Thank you!

Paty Jager said...

Laurie, I always get a different slant on things when I listen to one of your presentations or read one of your blogs. I'm not sure this fits, but once my two oldest were out of high school and off to college and the two younger ones were in high school, I started taking my writing hobby seriously. It took a lot of years of it being considered a hobby by my family and the accountant, but after 20+ books published and a little money trickling in, I finally have those people considering it a career. All I know is writing brings me joy. And when I'm happy everyone else in the family is happy!

Diana McCollum said...

I had a chance to leave a job I was disgruntled with and instead I stuck it out because my husband went on disability and I had insurance thru the company. Two more years of sticking it out and staff changed at my job. The next eight were great! Retired with 22 years from that same company, moved to Bend, OR and now I write!!

Luanna Stewart said...

Hi Laurie! *waves from Maine where it's just too darn hot today* I'm a reverse sort of person - when my college friends were pursing careers or graduate degrees, I was getting married and loving being a homemaker, and then a mom. And when my kids were both at school in the early '90's and friends and family would say "oh, now you can get a "real" job", I rebelled, and stayed at home so I could volunteer at the school, bake bread from scratch and have home-cooked meals on the table every night. We were comfortable with hubby's salary and I was happier taking care of my family. But I was constantly made to feel inadequate or guilty because I wasn't ALSO holding down a 9 - 5 job. I'm glad I stuck to my guns but it wasn't easy.

I always learn something from your classes and blog posts - thank you for being so generous with your wisdom.

Stephanie said...

Hi, Laurie. I'd wave but you couldn't see me through the smoke here. I was born and raised a city girl but I've always loved horses. Coming from a family scared of horses, I've spent my life training and competing on barrel racing horses. Love it. And now I'm embarking on a new adventure, writing.
I love your classes and have my fingers crossed for this one.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR BARBARA

Wow, three kids while in college is a heck of a journey -- and regardless of what kind your WIP heroine is on, we can bet she'll face at least some of the same 13 steps you did. :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR BRANDIE

You know, the fact that YOU don't think you've done anything exceptional is exactly the position so many heroines start out in...because we all tend to take our own skills and strengths for granted. But just from seeing your posts on Facebook, you've faced all kinds of situations with heroism, so give yourself a pat on the back NOW as well as later!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR PATY

Oh, I love the line about when you're happy everyone is happy. Like whatever that quote is: "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

Heck, I'd be willing to bet even those outside your family -- ahem, that would be the accountant -- are too.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR DIANA

Sounds like that two-year period was a very rough spot along your own journey's trail...but how wonderful that once you got past it, things have been good ever since!

MsHellion said...

Hi Laurie! I'm Fran. My father always had an expectation for me to be a teacher or a nurse (both of these careers are always needed and "steady pay"), and I went to college (which he was also kinda against in the beginning because I'd have to be in debt, but I went anyway--I really took a stand about it and just DID IT, real contrary like because if I didn't, I knew I'd end up in the same low-end jobs my brother and sister had--and I am not cut out for complete drudgery types jobs like cleaning. I can barely clean my house. I wanted education and to get a career with a desk. *LOL* And write at night and become famous. That was the dream. Personally I'm realizing I probably should have dreamed a little bigger, but I dreamed with the skill set I had at the time. *LOL*)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR LUANNA

Shoot, you were born in that generation where being a fully committed homemaker OR a fully committed career woman weren't considered "enough" by most of society...good for you on sticking to your guns. (And will it make you feel any better about the Maine heat if you hear that yesterday in Phoenix we hit 117?)

Amberly Smith said...

I'm nodding as I read your post and them bam! Of course that's the 13th step. Like a light-bulb moment. Can't wait for your class!

Me past the limits others set? Married the man I love rather than the 'appriopriate choice.' I'm a breast cancer survivor. The tougher limits, that I still struggle with, are the ones I set against myself. Work in progress.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR STEPHANIE

A family afraid of horses? I never would've guessed; you definitely broke that barrier! Which is a good track record to have as you embark on this current journey; you already KNOW you can do whatever you set your mind to. :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR FRAN

Way to GO on dreaming big -- and accomplishing what you set out to! Sure, in retrospect we can all say (after achieving a goal) that we probably could've set our sights higher, but that sure doesn't take away the tremendous triumph of having chosen a tough course and then actually sticking with it all the way to fruition.

Except in a couple of the 13 steps which help make the story exciting...

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR AMBERLY

What a great insight about the toughest limits being those you set for yourself...it might be easy for someone on the outside to notice, but usually when people say "you're being too hard on yourself" we don't pay any attention. Hearing it from the inside is a very convenient tip!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR EVERYBODY

Oops, I just found a typo in today's closing -- I mentioned free registration to the October class, but it's actually from September 1-25. Sorry about not proofing my own work!

Shelley Mosley said...

That 13th step can be challenging, but it might very well be the most important. Cool blog, Laurie!

Robin Connelly said...

I've been in two car accidents, 9 months apart. Shouldn't have survived either. They were both head-on collisions on the highway with Semis. The first broke my leg and bruised my brain, the second I walked away from with a few scratches that became scars. I relearn ed how to drive on the highway after both of them. I shook the first few times I tried with the first accident. The second was much worse. We made up games to help relieve the stress. After college, I moved cross-country to make my home.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR SHELLEY

I'm betting your research into the early American suffragettes yielded a whole LOT of women who made the world better for those around them...not to mention the rest of us. :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR ROBIN

Good heavens, you've had more than your share of tough challenges -- and the fact that you've survived them all is impressive! I like your idea of making up games to help relieve the stress...gotta remember that next time I'm running behind. (Which isn't anywhere NEAR the same in terms of stress levels.)

Kathy McAvoy said...

Well, I'm game to leave a comment about my own heroine's journey (which isn't quite finished yet!). I remember always molding and shaping myself to fit other's expectations -- and initially it was my mother's expectations, and later it became men's expectations. In fact, when I began the process of changing and reshaping myself based upon men's expectations, my mother became furious with me and it actually drove a wedge into our relationship for a long time! I guess she wanted "sole proprietorship" over who I would become. However, a wise doctor suggested, 12 years ago, that I try yoga (for an unrelated health problem). And voilà - the "problem" of Who Was Kathy? finally got solved. Because yoga is a deeply spiritual practice geared toward discovering the True Self, I was finally on the path towards self-realization, in the truest sense of that phrase. And there is nothing blissful or esoteric about finding oneself -- in my case, it involved a great deal of forgiveness and compassion towards my younger self. But I am definitely at peace with who I am, how long it took me to get here, and I forgive myself (sometimes daily) for mistakes along the way. And as for my mother...she is older now, of course, and in failing health, and I think that we have reached an accord in these later years. And I am excited about how much I've grown, how much I've learned, and I like myself just as I am.

Kathy McAvoy said...

Well, I'm game to leave a comment about my own heroine's journey (which isn't quite finished yet!). I remember always molding and shaping myself to fit other's expectations -- and initially it was my mother's expectations, and later it became men's expectations. In fact, when I began the process of changing and reshaping myself based upon men's expectations, my mother became furious with me and it actually drove a wedge into our relationship for a long time! I guess she wanted "sole proprietorship" over who I would become. However, a wise doctor suggested, 12 years ago, that I try yoga (for an unrelated health problem). And voilà - the "problem" of Who Was Kathy? finally got solved. Because yoga is a deeply spiritual practice geared toward discovering the True Self, I was finally on the path towards self-realization, in the truest sense of that phrase. And there is nothing blissful or esoteric about finding oneself -- in my case, it involved a great deal of forgiveness and compassion towards my younger self. But I am definitely at peace with who I am, how long it took me to get here, and I forgive myself (sometimes daily) for mistakes along the way. And as for my mother...she is older now, of course, and in failing health, and I think that we have reached an accord in these later years. And I am excited about how much I've grown, how much I've learned, and I like myself just as I am.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR KATHY

What a lovely discovery to make about yourself...and, boy, now you've got me REALLY curious about trying yoga!

Amber Polo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber Polo said...

I never understood the hero's journey steps. Nice to know I'm not the only one. Yes, women's real journeys are different and certainly not easier.
I think I've lived several woman's journeys, but agree that yoga can change a woman on a cellular and emotional level. As long as it is done with acceptance and gentleness. Somehow healthier choices become easier.
Thanks for a terrific post.

Amber Polo said...

I never understood the hero's journey steps. Nice to know I'm not the only one. Yes, women's real journeys are different and certainly not easier.
I think I've lived several woman's journeys, but agree that yoga can change a woman on a cellular and emotional level. As long as it is done with acceptance and gentleness. Somehow healthier choices become easier.
Thanks for a terrific post.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR AMBER

Whew, what a relief to know there's someone else who didn't really GET the Hero's Journey -- I always felt like I must've missed something that was obvious to the rest of the world. But, heck, if there are two of us I'll bet there are more out there somewhere...

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR EVERYONE

Okay, I'm being a wuss and heading off to bed early...waiting to see how the prize drawing is handled, but don't want to do anything prematurely. Thanks, everybody who shared their stories today and I'll look forward to seeing whatever else comes in tomorrow!

Michael Mock said...

The hero's journey has always struck me not just as a male path, but as a path for *young* males. It's the journey through puberty, more or less: starting with a stable environment, venturing out, discovering something of your abilities, failing (sometimes horribly) and realizing your limits and your weaknesses (passing through the underworld) -- and then, hopefully, reassessing what it is you really want and what you have to offer, and discovering what you need to do in order to get you there.

Taking Star Wars as an example... It works fine for Luke Skywalker, but you can't use the same story structure if you're telling the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi trying to train Luke. And you can't use it for Leia, either, who already has a very clear view of who she is and what she has to offer. Han Solo? I'd argue that his Hero's Journey already took place, and wound up with him finding a career as a smuggler -- his character arc in the actual movies is very different, and later in life.

I've been enjoying the Star Wars: Rebels cartoons (in no small part, I admit, because I have a five-year-old and a nine-year-old, and anything they'll watch that doesn't make me completely crazy is composed entirely of win), but even there I'm not sure the storyline tracks exactly to the Hero's Journey. You have the young hero, Ezra Bridger, first discovering his power (the Force) under the guidance of a mentor -- but a lot of the struggles there are less about using his power or mastering his power, and more about learning to trust and to work with other people.

I'm sorry. I know that didn't have anything to do with overcoming expectations in real life, but... well, I'm male, and white, and reasonably well-spoken. I'm rather less prisoner to expectations than a lot of people are. But, well, I don't think it's just a matter of the Hero's Journey and the Heroine's Journey -- even in more-or-less-Adventure stories, I think there are a lot of other options.

Elaine Bedigian said...

Hi Laurie,
Enjoyed this post, and I've signed up for the September class--THJ for Heroines. Will probably do so for the Maser Class in October. But, in between, I'm liking what I'm learning in your current (August) Revisions class. I surely needed this!
Elaine Bedigian

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR MICHAEL

Good point about there not being just ONE journey, either for men or for women. In fact, Kim Hudson calls her book "The Virgin's Promise" because she's theorizing (as a screenwriter) that the process works equally well for any relatively inexperienced/sheltered person, regardless of gender.

And you gotta love ANY story that entertains your sons as well as you!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR ELAINE

How cool that I'll get to see you in September, and maybe October as well -- not to mention that August is coming in handy. It's always great to know when a class is doing the kind of thing it's supposed to do. :)

charlotte said...

Great blog, Laurie! I like that thirteenth step. It seems there are layers of expectations and one layer is shed, and then the next is discovered: parents', spouse's, children's and society's. And then figuring out how our own desires and identity have been shaped by all of those. Do you find that this 13th step happens at around the age of 50 for many women (as weve discussed in the past)? I'm finding that for me, full self expression, without worrying about judgement, is feeling like what the 13th step may be.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR CHARLOTTE

I like the theory that age 50 is a time when so many women finally come into their own after a lifetime spent deferring to the wishes of parents / friends / lovers / husbands / children.

Book characters tend to achieve that sooner, because readers don't want to wait so long, but in real life we've got a whole lot more time to get there!

Beth Treadway said...

I've spent my whole life doing what I wasn't supposed to do from going to law school to joining the USAF to starting a writing career. Thanks for mentioning the Virgin's Promise. Just got my hands on a copy 👍💃🏼

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR BETH

Given all the ways you've already broken barriers in your life, I suspect reading the book will feel very much like reading an autobiography...but it'll probably provide some nice moments of recollection along the way. :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR EVERYBODY

Thanks to all of you who shared FABULOUS examples of how the Heroine's Journey and the 13th step have played out in your own lives...here's wishing the same eloquence for your heroines. (Not a very tough wish when it's writers talking, huh?)

Also, congratulations to random.org's pick of #10 among the commenters -- free registration to "The Hero's Journey, for Heroines" at WriterUniv.com from September 1-25 goes to Amberly Smith.

Just let me know offlist what email to use for your yahoogroups invitation...or if the class timing doesn't work for you and you'd like to give your prize to a friend, let me know THEIR email instead!

Laurie at "Book Laurie at gmail com"