Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Old New Castle, Delaware
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As we continue talking about the writer’s journey let’s look at the second step.
Step Two: The Threshold
This is the jumping off point for the adventure. Once past this threshold, the hero enters the unknown—a world filled with challenges and danger. At the threshold the hero encounters beings or situations that block his passage (guardians or gatekeepers). When the hero is ready to meet the challenge the guardians will stand aside or even become a helper or friend.
This is where so many writers get stuck. We receive the call and embark on the journey but once we hit up against the realities of the publishing industry, which include seemingly insurmountable odds and some of the most ferocious gatekeepers, we shrink back.
A popular theme in writers’ blogs is the unfairness of the query system or the difficulties encountered trying to get the proverbial foot in the door. When considered in light of the hero’s journey, it makes sense. Many who answer the call will fail shortly after the threshold—the challenges seem overwhelming.
Tom Hanks was quoted as saying, “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” How true.
I thought Mark Healy, a columnist for The Globe and Mail offered an interesting premise in an April 21, 2009 article Generation Y Wants it Now:
“There is a generation coming through school now, just starting to hit the workforce, and already a powerful consumer segment, which hasn’t really waited for anything. Ever. And our business world isn’t quite ready for them.
Think about it. This generation — which sails under many flags: Gen Y, Millennials, Echo Boomers, Digitals, etc. — is growing up in an economy which is vastly different from that of Gen X (my cohort), the Baby Boomers, and the Old Guard before them. Millennials discover music they like and download it immediately. They process three or more simultaneous, continuous streams of information and communication — conducting history research, while texting friends, and updating Facebook. The idea of a store isn’t necessarily relevant. Nor is the idea of investing, or putting in your time. So — they don’t wait to communicate, even one-to-many, they don’t wait to accumulate and process mass amounts of information, and they don’t wait to purchase and consume. They are hyper-efficient. And that’s the problem. A lot of our business models either put up with, or to some extent depend on, inefficiency.”
When you realize that the threshold to the world of publishing is populated by gatekeepers who depend on inefficiency to help filter the masses, you can see the conflict. And in publishing, it’s not just the Millenials—I see the impatience cross-generationally.
The reality is that there are far more writers—even good writers—than there are publishing spots. Face it; there are more writers than there are potential readers for that writing. Not everyone who embarks on the journey will make it past the gatekeepers.
It will take heroic efforts.
How about you? Have you stepped over the threshold in your writer’s journey? What kinds of gatekeepers or situations have blocked your passage? What can you do to be ready to meet the challenge? Have you every had a guardian or gatekeeper become a mentor or an ally?