A heroine’s journey with a hero in it.
I’m writing this letter with the support of my friend Catherine. We’re on a co-working date.
We meet on the phone, tell each other what we’re going to work on for the next 90 minutes, and then hang up and do it. After 45 minutes, we call each other to check in, stretch, and be a sounding board for each other if needed. Then we turn our phones off again and finish with another 30 minutes of writing.
Just knowing that we’re using the same time container, and that she’s at her desk right now, writing with me, makes it easier for me to feel focused.
It’s not magic… is it?
I just finished reading the first book of Naomi Novik’s new fantasy series, A Deadly Education, so the separation between reality and magic is especially blurred. That often happens to me after I go deep into a well-crafted story about magical forces and energy fields and monsters, etc.
(Not that I actually believe in schools that teach people how to be magicians… except of course that’s why I started my own creative writing school, so I guess maybe I do.)
Anyway, something I loved about the book is that it’s a heroine’s journey with a hero in it.
The hero is the protagonist’s antagonist/love interest, and their interaction has a bit of a Scully/Mulder vibe — stubborn resistance on the surface, romance in the subtext.
Gail Carriger taught a workshop on the Heroine’s Journey in the last Story Intensive. In it, she explained: a hero triumphs by doing everything alone, while a heroine knows how to delegate, and saves the day with her network of allies.
In A Deadly Education, the protagonist’s story has everything to do with friendships, alliances, belonging, and asking for and receiving support.
This includes accepting the support of the hero in the story, who has special powers that he uses to save her life all the time.
It’s a great story in that it makes room for diverse kinds of powers — in this case, the power of doing something alone gets amplified by the power of linking up with other people.
But it’s not like doing something alone isn’t also powerful.
Speaking of which, how does your writing power work?
I wrote the first draft of a new novel with a lot of structured support from a writing group. This worked beautifully, and helped me show up even when I didn’t know what I was doing.
When I was confused in the wilderness of a first draft, checking in with fellow writers every day was like checking a compass. That’s how I finished it.
I let the manuscript rest in my drawer for six months. Now I’m picking it up again to see what it is, and I think I want to be a hero for the next month or so — I want to do this next part on my own, until I feel ready to share some pages with my agent.
(Of course, I’m not really alone. Knowing my agent is there, ready to look at it when I am ready to share, is a huge support.)
The theme in Centered this month (if you haven’t guessed) is SUPPORT.
If you aren’t a member already, now would be a great time to join. Our Guest Mentor is the inimitable Elayne Fluker, author of Get Over I Got It and host of the Support is Sexy podcast. Not to be missed!
Have a beautiful month, and I hope to see you in Centered.
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