Monday, April 15, 2013

Own Your Own Mythology

 I was given some great advice form a successful writer a while back who said we, as writers, need to figure out our mythology: Figure out who you are and what you want to give to the world. When you figure that out, your readers will know what to expect from you.

I'm not talking simply along the lines of genre, nor am I talking about writing books with a purposeful moral or lesson.Mythology goes deeper than that. Though we don't always write with a purposeful moral or lesson, there is always one there. When we write, we bleed ourselves onto the paper. Who we are and what we believe seeps into the readers mind like a floral fragrance in a breeze--sometimes powerful and strong, and other times subtle and soft. Yet is it always there.

Feinstein and Krippner define personal mythology as "the vibrant infrastructure that informs your life, whether or no you are aware of it. Consciously or unconsciously, you live by your mythology."

We all have our own personal mythology, the tapestry woven from our beliefs and experiences which we rest our decisions on each day.  But, as a writer, it is imperative that we tap into what that mythology is in our work.  What is that vibrant infrastructure that fills our books? What do we write about and why?

Perhaps your personal mythology is the desire to awake people to their senses through the literary art of fear and suspense, or perhaps you want to kindle the fire of love and longing. Maybe you already know your mythology. Maybe you need to decide on what that is.

For me, I've thought long and hard about what I my mythology would be, what common threads would I have woven into my writing that emanate from my deeper, personal mythology.

One of the threads is that of personal accountability and responsibility. 

When it comes to the reasons for our behavior and our circumstances, blame seems to a precious commodity, never to be wasted.

We are often looking for a place to put it where it will be safe from our own discomfort and shame. 

We place blame on society, our editors, our spouses, on our circumstances, our genes, our lack of sleep, etc. 

What we either don't know, or forget, is that with where we place the blame, we also place the power.

We are saying that we have no control over what we say or do, but that our actions are merely a consequence of something or someone else.

We give up the ability to pilot or own plane so we can blame someone else when it crashes.

Part my mythology, personal and writing (which is hard to separate for me) is the notion--the truth--that we have a God-given right and responsibility to own every action and reaction we have, every decision we make, everything thing we say and write. 

Once we own those these, we own our life.          
We no longer are a victim of circumstance, but a navigator of purpose.
We no longer let life happen to us, but we make it happen.            
We no longer allow others to control us, but be claim dominion over ourselves.
We take responsibility for who we are and what we do.                    
We own our lives.

It can be scary-- especially when we must own the blame as well (you mean it's not the editor's fault that my first draft is crap?), but through owning our life we find power and freedom.

That's my mythology.

So, I guess my message to you today is two-fold:

First, find your mythology.

Second, own your life.

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