Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On the Verge of the Verge

After a crazy whirlwind of high school graduation parties and book completions and house guests and weird monsoon rainstorms, this summer has suddenly turned quiet. 

My daughter's on the verge of heading off to college. And I'm on the verge of starting a new book after wringing myself out writing the last one. At the moment we're both in a holding pattern. Hovering between adventures. 

Quiet. But with different definitions of the word. 

For my daughter, it's a building, impatient kind of quiet. She's eager to get going on her adventure. Texting her new roommate a thousand times a day. Making up packing lists and perusing college course catalogs.

My version is the lazy, borderline boring kind of quiet. I'm doing stuff like vacuuming. Making squash balls. Posting goofy pictures of vegetables on Instagram. 

When I teach writing workshops, I like to talk about the Hero's Journey. If you're not familiar with it, the Hero's Journey is basically the narrative structure for nearly all stories. Our hero starts out in the ordinary world--either perfectly happy to park out there forever (see The Hobbit. Jaws, etc.) or itching to get the hell out of there (Wizard of Oz. Star Wars). 

Either way, something happens. 

The hero gets a Call to Adventure (Gandalf comes knocking on the door; a shark eats a swimmer, a tornado blows the farmhouse away, storm troopers murder the family) and off the Hero goes on the adventure. 

I'm greatly simplifying here --because sometimes the hero refuses the Call for a while or it may take a few attempts to get moving-- but most stories don't get cooking until the main character crosses the threshold and goes off-- finally!--on the adventure. 

Readers and moviegoers tend to get a bit antsy when the writer holds the hero in the Ordinary World for too long. We want to see the hero in some real action. Not smoking a pipe in the hobbit hole or ticketing cars on Amity Island or singing on a fence post in black and white Kansas or farming and fixing droids for Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. 

Maybe I am getting old. I know my next adventure's going to start soon enough. Meanwhile, I am content to kick back and wallow around for a few moments in my little wedge on the verge of it. 

Look! An eggplant!


  1. Ah, eggplants, the easiest vegetable to grow since absolutely forever,
    Hello! I recently read your book at the library today so i looked you up, i can't really explain it, but your writing kinda just is really easy to read (not in a bad way), it hurt some times and other times it made me happy, but it never lasted long before the opposite happened, there was an ebb and flow to it, and by the end i REALLY REALLY wanted more. :) To conclude, i really have nothing to say other than i really like your book, and that pretty much it >.<
    -that one twelve year-old kid

    1. David, I'm so happy to hear you liked Thin Space. Totally made my morning to wake up to your message :)