ROWJourney 3-4

Hi everyone! Can you believe its March already? Just a couple short weeks and Round 1 of 2012 will be over. It’s been an amazing year so far, new opportunities are on the horizon, a few long struggles are reaching their conclusion and in between freak snow storms the sun is shining in a new way.

To get things started, I have the much anticipated review of Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey followed by this week’s update.

Review of The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

The Writers Journey is not just a craft book but an essay on the human experience. Based on the writings of Joseph Campbell (Hero of a Thousand Faces), Vogler covers all aspects of the monomyth that pervades the greatest tales of the human race and parallels our journey through life. Vogler does an excellent job of revealing the vibrant power of the elements of dramatic story and accentuates them with compelling lessons on Polarity, Catharsis and the role that tales play in keeping our emotional, mental and physical aspects healthy.

Vogler provides excellent analogies, examples, and diagrams to show the power of myth in story and how it can be applied across any genre to give our readers/viewers a powerful emotional experience – and that, my friends, is the heart and purpose of true fiction.

From the author: “Caveat Scriptor! (Let the writer beware) The Hero’s Journey model is a guideline. It’s not a cookbook recipe or mathematical formula to be applied rigidly to every story.” Indeed not, in fact, after reading breakdowns of Titanic, The Lion King, Pulp Fiction, The Full Monty and Star Wars (all included in the book) it became clear how the elements of the Hero’s Journey empower the visceral nature of story when mixed .

In the words of Dante: “In the midst of life’s journey I found myself in a dark wood, for the right path was lost.” Every writer is in that same place at times (often, for some of us) and the Writer’s Journey acts as a guiding light to help us find the difficult to see path.

The Writer’s Journey is bar none the best writing book I’ve read (out of over eighty) and I not only recommend it – I’ll say it this way – if you are only going to buy and read one writing book this year, this is the one you want. Experience the Journey and discover the powerful Elixir it brings home to your writing village.

And now, on to the update.

-Write 7k of fiction per week. Yes, and well beyond. The writing was flowing like a mountain river in spring this week. I was focused on the WWBC project and applying the lessons learned from The Writer’s Journey. Characters are coming to life, the depth of the story is revealing itself and after a long struggle I’ve found the path through the woods. More on this in time. For now, I’m enjoying time with the voices in my head *grin*

-WWBC: A note. I had a great conversation with Donna Newton this week (my WWBC mentor) and it looks like I’ll be back on track with things in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned – this goal is totally coming back.

-30 minutes of treadmill 5 days a week. Things were a bit more chaotic then usual this week and I only managed 4 walks. Life is like that sometimes. I’ll be pressing to ensure I get in the right amount in the coming week now that the work transition is starting to settle into a rhythm.

-Read two fiction and two craft books by March 21st. Above is the review for the second craft book and one fiction is done which leaves me with Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement. I started this book yesterday and might have it done by the end of the week. Have to wait and see on that one. I’ve already started lining up my next “grouping of four” which seems to work well for me. Hint: Stephen King is in the next batch.

-Maintain sponsor duties. Just so you all know, I don’t count it as a “duty” but a “pleasure” to visit with as many of you as possible each week. Your journey’s, good, bad and otherwise inspire me and charge my batteries for the coming week. I hope that you find the same thing and encourage you to get out and support your fellow ROWer’s, they are an excellent group of kindred souls.

In a dark and lonely woods a friendly hand reached out and showed me the path to ROW.

Peaceful Journeys!

About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. “Only the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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34 Responses to ROWJourney 3-4

  1. Gene, I am between books heaving just finished Joan Didion’s sad but disappointing BLUE NIGHTS. Sounds like you just helped me pick my title.

    I’m glad to hear you are moving forward on your WWBC project. I wrote 3,500 words in 4 hours yesterday! (of course, DH and Tech Support were at a fencing tourney in Ohio, so I was super productive!) *wink*

    Good for you in staying on top of nearly all our goals. You inspire.

  2. Ali Dent says:

    “The writing was flowing like a mountain river in spring.” Beautiful. The Nantahala River in NC is my favorite trout fishing river. Your words took me there for a moment. Thanks. I hope you have a great week.

    By the way, I used the sticky pads with columns this week. It focused me in a new way. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  3. Marcia says:

    Just ordered Writer’s Journey and can’t wait to get into it! You had another amazing week! Even walking 4 days is great considering all that you squeeze into a day. If you could bottle that discipline, I’d be first in line to buy it. 🙂
    Yes, the ROW is almost done for this round. This has been the best round for me so far and, as it seems, the same for a lot of folks. Wishing you another great week!

  4. LOL Marcia: “If you could bottle that discipline, I’d be the first in line to buy it.” I don’t know how Gene does it. He’s like the ROW80 Champ. Super interesting that this book had such an effect after having read over 80! I always wondered how many you’ve read. You must be an expert in the craft by now. You could start a blog series “Lessons from Gene Lempp”. I know I’d be tuning in.

  5. Gene.. how do you kick so much arse and make it look so gosh darn easy? *jealous* 😉
    Good job on the progress you continue to achieve. I have quite a few craft books already (one being The Art of Subtext, which is very good) but since you recommend this one with such high praise, I am going to purchase it.
    Keep up the great work!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Renee: You’ll love the Vogler book (huge recommendation from WWBC for this one). Glad you were able to find some “quiet time” to write – yay for fencing! Thanks for the support 🙂

      Ali: Nantahala River sounds like a great place. I’m not much of a fisherman (caught one at age ten, poor little guy, and never been able to duplicate the feat) – but I do love nature and gorgeous scenery (thumbs up for hiking). Glad the sticky notes idea worked out, I know it helps me a great deal and happy to share it 🙂

      Marcia: Writer’s Journey is a powerful read – enjoy it. LOL, if I could bottle my discipline I’d be selling it in a nationwide campaign – thing is, I think everyone can do it – so I’ll be exploring options on this one. Thanks 🙂

      Nicole: Hm, good idea – “Lessons from Lempp” – I’ll definitely be toying with that idea. Yeah, 80 books, but let me tell you, the one lesson that stands above all others from it is this: Find the method that works for you. No one else can teach you – you. Thanks for the support and the idea 🙂

      Darlene: Practice, yep, that’s the answer cause let me tell you I totally scragged by goals the first couple rounds – which is why I like being a sponsor now: Have to screw up to know how to help others resolve things. I’ll be checking out the Art of Subtext, haven’t read that one, yet *grin* Thanks for the support and enjoy the Writer’s Journey 🙂

      Lauralynn: I actually outsource some of my activities to gnomes. I can tell you that the inspiration is always mutual – without ROW I wouldn’t push as hard (and was a total slacker back in the day). Thanks for the support 🙂

  6. As usual, you’re on track and beyond. I don’t know where you find your energy and drive, but you are one of the most inspirational ROWers I know. Keep up the good work and keep inspiring us to push on a little farther.

  7. Sounds like you had a great week! What a way to be inspirational to all of us 🙂

    I think I’ll pick up The Writer’s Journey! Thanks for the review.

  8. alberta says:

    might even try that book myself – not a great reader of what you all call craft books (that had me confused for months:) thought you were all knitting or making patchworks – whic is what I call a craft book here in UK but maybe UK writers are the same as all of you:) and I missed the transition somewhere – I find I have missed quite a few transitions – you had a good week and hope the next is good – keep smiling

  9. Excellent review Gene – definitely going on my TBB pile.

    Congrats on all the fantastic writing that you were able to accomplish – excellent job! I wanted to let you know that the sheet you suggested last week has really helped me keep track this week. And I didn’t lose it.

    Thanks for always being a positive voice. It’s very much appreciated! Now keep up that great goal-busting attitude! 🙂

  10. K.B. Owen says:

    Hi, Gene – great progress on your goals! You’ve inspired me to order it from Barnes and Noble (only available in paperback, not in ebook form, sadly). I should get it in a few days. Woot! Thanks for all you do to support us!

  11. Lena Corazon says:

    Okay, Vogler’s book has definitely been added to the TBR list. I’ve loved Campbell’s work ever since we studied him in a high school religion class (we even got to write a myth based on the basic structure of the hero’s journey), so this sounds like it’s right up my alley.

    As always, Gene, you’ve accomplished a ton. Fantastic job, and I hope you have a wonderful week to come!

  12. Jenny Hansen says:

    Love your ROW Updates! And dude, you were ON FIRE when you wrote this one – such lyrical language. I’m delighted your fiction is coming together because I’ll buy it when it hits the shelves.

    Fave sentence: Experience the Journey and discover the powerful Elixir it brings home to your writing village.

  13. KM Huber says:

    Was actually awaiting your thoughts on the Vogler book as I am great admirer of Joseph Campbell and his work with myth. Like the others, I remain in awe of your accomplishments but also inspired. Always a pleasure to read your blog.

  14. Thank you for the book rec it’s always nice to find a good craft book.

  15. Catherine Johnson says:

    It sounds like you are doing really well Gene and I really like that book, it broadens your horizons don’t you think?

  16. Gene, Writer’s Journey is one of my all-time favorites! I always have it within arms’ reach. 🙂 I hope you continue to have a great week with “mountain spring” writing and all the fun and satisfaction that entails. Good luck with your goals this week!

  17. The Writer’s Journey was the first craft book I read then went on to buy. I have little post-it tabs throughout, LOL. Save the Cat is my second must have craft book. And the two layer beautifully together when needed.

    Great work with the goals Gene! All the best for the upcoming week.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Claudia: Thanks and enjoy the book 🙂

      Alberta: The Writer’s Journey would be the perfect book to sit back and read while you’re recovering…just pointing that out for no particular reason 🙂

      Marie: Awesome! I’m glad the sheet is working out for you (and that you didn’t lose it). Thanks for the being such a wonderful supporter – and I don’t just mean for me – as I traveled about other ROW sites today I saw many positive comments from you – kudos 🙂

      Kathy: You want it in paper not digital – trust me on that one. Mine has about twenty sticky tabs poking out like a multi-colored forest and more to come when I re-read it in a couple months.

      Lena: You’ll love Vogler’s book. Especially after having just completed a Journey of your own recently – should be the perfect time to read it. Enjoy and thanks for the support my friend 🙂

      Jen: All those words are paying off for sure and I can tell my muse is maturing a bit. If all goes to plan I may just have something out by the end of the year. Stay tuned 🙂

      Karen: I’ve read Campbell as well and am a huge fan of mythology, ancient history, legends and fairy tales – which may be why Vogler’s book hit so well for me. Glad you are enjoying the blog and thanks much for the support 🙂

      Alica: This is the best I’ve read – Enjoy 🙂

      Catherine: Yes, if broadened my horizons and put me on a new and wonderful path. Can’t wait to apply it all.

      Jessica: Writer’s Journey is definitely getting a special place in my office – maybe a lectern like the magical grimoires of old, it is just that powerful. Thanks for the support 🙂

      Raelyn: Right with you, small forest of posties sticking out of it. Read Save the Cat last year and you are dead on there – they are quite compatible – Brook’s Story Engineering fits in well with the Hero’s Journey concept as well. Will be interesting to test this all out as I write from here forward. Thanks for the support 🙂

  18. Julie Glover says:

    Thanks so much for the review. It’s my plan to read a writing craft book each ROW round, and I’m always wondering what should be next. Now I know!

    Great week for you! Wonderful word count. And I feel the same way about my sponsor duties, too. 🙂

  19. Wow – the book sounds amazing. I will totally add it to the list of TBR craft books. Love the review since I’m always on the hunt for great new craft books to pick up.
    Your enthusiasm and accomplishments are incredible! Congrats on the FAB word count and that the story is coming together and the writing flowing like smooth silk. I can hear the pride and excitement in your post and it’s contagious. Can’t wait to hear more! 🙂

  20. Laura Parish says:

    Congratulations and well done on a brilliant check in.
    Hope your week is a good one.

  21. L.S. Engler says:

    And consider The Writer’s Journey promptly added to my list (long as it may be!) of Books to Buy Soon! It sounds wonderful, and I’m especially drawn into the myth perspective in breaking down stories, so, yes, this sounds like a must have!

    It sounds like you’re pretty solid on your RoW goals, too! No surprise there, though. Keep it up!

  22. Stacy Green says:

    The book sounds like a good one to check out, Gene. Thank you for the review. And as always, great job on your goals. Keep up the great work!

  23. I want to do more skills development reading. I just might have to add “The Writer’s Journey” to my list.

    Congrats on doing so well with your goals. It sounds like you’re well on the way to making 2012 a productive year. Keep at it.

    Have a great week, Gene.


  24. Ruth Nestvold says:

    Heh, I wasn’t all that impressed by Vogler’s book, but back in the day, I grew up with Joseph Campbell during my undergrad literary studies, so I think that’s why. 🙂 Hey, there always have to be some dissenting voices, right?

    Cool on all the words! Keep up the good work and have a great week, Gene. 🙂

  25. Thanks Gene for all of your encouragement! I really do appreciate when you stop by and I know you don’t look at it as a chore. And thanks so much for trying to work something out with a post. See you Sunday! 🙂

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  27. I loved this book, and it helped me puzzle out so much about characters. I read it an age ago, however–i would love to read it again now, because I suspect that some lessons I probably didn’t get quite as much out of as I would now. Thanks for the review, and the reminder to myself to reread!


  28. Gene — Thanks for the incandescently glowing review of my humble little book. I wrote it just for you! I’m just so thrilled when people “get” it, especially the part about it being “an essay on the human experience.” That came as a surprise to me when I started putting the book together. It sounds like you’ve fully absorbed that as well as what I hope are useful concepts and techniques for writers. I was touched by the positive feedback from your sizable following. I’m still exploring the Journey, and have put my latest findings into another book, “MEMO FROM THE STORY DEPT.: Secrets of Structure and Character”, co-written with my story analyst colleague, Columbia film professor David McKenna. I dug a little deeper into the structure of fairy tales, the early development of character writing in Aristotle’s time, and what we can learn from the venerable traditions of vaudeville. So, best wishes with your own explorations and many thanks for sharing what you’re finding with your fellow writers!

    Chris Vogler
    Author of “The Writer’s Journey”

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