(Published formally on Bonjour Bellingham)
Do you actually feel called to write or to do something else with your life? I believe that anyone can learn the craft of writing and even publish their work, but does that mean that writing will bring them the satisfaction that they seek?
I’m thinking of the late Joseph Campbell, someone I greatly admire. Campbell answered the call to his quest which was to study mythology from around the world, find common themes, and to teach those themes to his students and his fans, like me. He delved into psychology (Jung) and anthropology as well as, social themes of our day, not to mention popular entertainment(“Star Wars”), but the point that Campbell drove across for me was answering the call.
The call comes to a reluctant hero. In Luke Skywalker’s situation, he was called on a journey and to answer the mystery of his father’s identity. But answering a call, any call that leads to a quest, involves making a choice. Do you choose to stay stuck in a boring, but comfortable life or are you going to leap into the unknown. A quest is leaping into the unknown, whether you hop on a plane or embark on a new career path as a novice or an initiate.
We can’t avoid life baptizing us or sending us on one initiation after another. In many ways writing is a shaman’s quest if you do it right and from the deepest part of your soul. If you can’t write from the deepest part of your soul, and you only write to put more money in your bank account, then you are on the wrong path.
People on this planet need a transformational experience these days. They might not know it yet, but we as writers need to glean prophesies in the wind and intuitive what this world needs next, not the bottom line of the marketplace or the next wave of a trend. Forget the trends, they are superficial and a distraction from what you know you must do. Sure if you can find a way to use vampires to wake people up spiritually and I mean light spirituality, not the dark stuff, then maybe that’s your calling. It certainly isn’t mine.
A true calling feels foreboding in a way. It’s like entering a relationship with a soul mate because you know your life will be turned upside down and never feel the same again. Once you walk through that door it slams and locks behind you. Your old life is gone forever. Then you embark on the journey as a writer. You dig deep into your soul for stories, archetypes, and you may not always know where you or your story are heading, but you trust that the energy around you does know so you pay attention. You follow those intuitive hunches and threads of synchronicity as they lead you like bread crumbs through a dark forest.
Then when you feel that you are on safe ground you experience your first obstacles. These are the double-headed monsters of doubt, fear, lack of confidence. You project these fears outward and attract critical monsters in the physical world in the form of the publishing industry’s rules, critics, people who rip your work to shreds and other monsters. But you persevere because the calling is stronger than the obstacles. You experience victorious days riding into a village on a stallion and other days you wallow in the mud with war tinging the hills in the background. But it’s a cycle and you will soon ride victoriously again.
A true calling involves wrestling with demons in the soul and sharing wisdom gleaned on the journey. Once you respond to the quest there is no turning back. At some point it is your soul you deliver to the world the form of a book. And only you can decide whether that soul sought enrichment or cheap thrills. The public might respond more favorably to cheap thrills, but only enrichment serves the highest good and brings the greatest benefit.
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