A Crisis Point

This past weekend I went with some friends—Me, Myself, and I—to see Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thoroughly loved it.

There’s a scene in it where the hero, Peter Parker, reaches a crisis. That’s not exactly a spoiler. If you know the hero’s journey model, you know that a hero usually goes through a crisis before the end of the story. I have to quote a line here from the movie in order for the point I wish to make in this post to make sense. So, if you don’t want spoilers of any kind, stop reading at the bold and start back up again at the next bold point.

⭐ SPOILERS!!! ⭐

After Peter messes up so badly that he has to get help from Iron Man, Iron Man decides to take back the suit he had given Spider-Man to use while fighting crime. Peter declares, “I am nothing without this suit.” The sign of someone in crisis.

⭐ END SPOILERS!!! ⭐

In The Writer’s Journey—Christopher Vogler’s look at mythic structure as discussed in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces—Vogler talked about the ordeal or crisis a hero faces. This is part of the hero’s rebirth.

A crisis is defined by Webster’s as “the point in a story or drama at which hostile forces are in the tensest state of opposition.” We also speak of a crisis in an illness: a point, perhaps a high spike of fever, after which the patient either gets worse or begins to recover. The message: Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. An Ordeal crisis, however frightening to the hero, is sometimes the only way to recovery or victory. (Vogler 161)

I teared up at the scene from Spider-Man that I mentioned earlier, because it hit close to home. For most of my life, I’ve been writing stories and other things. But lately, I haven’t been able to write much at all. Anything I attempted seemed strained. Even writing a blog post has been difficult. Most of my friends are busy with their books. But I got nothin’. Some of this is due to the steadily mounting rejections I’ve received for my fiction books or criticism I’ve received for nonfiction work. But to be honest, it’s mostly due to self-doubt—feeling like a failure. So, I freeze up every time I think of writing anything—even this post, which took twice as long as posts usually take.

“I’m nothing without writing,” I found myself declaring. I had reached a crisis.

I knew I had two choices: (1) to believe that declaration and continue to go on a downward spiral; (2) to get up again and find out what’s really true about myself.

After some soul searching, I got up. Instead of writing, I’ve been doing other things. Like making miniature rooms out of paper and fabric. (Um, I’ve always been a little quirky.) Like taking photographs of flowers. Like crocheting. Like hanging out with friends. Like watching great movies. Like babysitting. Like taking walks and enjoying the wind on my face.

    

I think you already know by now that what I’d believed about being nothing without writing wasn’t true. I’m more than what I do or don’t do. I’m still who I am—me, warts and all. Life will go on, whether I put pen to paper ever again or not.

I’m reminded of the phoenix and how it had to die in order to be reborn. This season of my life has been a kind of death and rebirth. Old as I am, I still needed to be reborn; still needed to see life anew.

Who am I? I’m L. Marie. Daughter. Sister. Friend. And right now, that’s enough.

Is it me, or do you see a face in this tree, like a person saying, “Ooo”?

Vogler, Christopher. The Writer’s Journey. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 1998.

Spider-Man: Homecoming movie poster from heyuguys.com. Phoenix image from clker.com. Photos by L. Marie.

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43 thoughts on “A Crisis Point

  1. You, my friend, are so much more than writing. Do what you enjoy and the words will flow at the right time. Trust me, writing for publication only, will never give you peace. Thank you for being so honest, L. Marie. xo

    • Thanks, Jill! I’m trying to take your advice. Which will mean yet another viewing of Wonder Woman and Spider-Man at the theater. 😀 😀 😀 And also reading good books.

  2. Well, I hope you get your writing mojo back soon, but I’m glad you’ve had the time to discover you’ve got lots of other things in your life too. It can be too easy for us to think that because one bit of our life is going wrong, then everything is pointless. 🙂

    • Thanks, FF. I’ve been reading some good books lately and having great conversations. I’ve seen lovely clouds and flowers on walks.

      When I was a kid, my parents used to complain that I had my nose in a book or notebook, instead of looking at the scenery on car trips. Well, I’m looking at the scenery. 😀

  3. Thank you for sharing so honestly, L. Marie. I’m happy to know that you were able to pick yourself up and see what is true — that you are more than what you do. Hugs going out to you!

  4. I often find the times of lying fallow to be the times that are most productive, though I don’t realize it at the time, L. Marie. Good for you in honoring the other wonderful things that you are and embracing your season of rebirth.
    Ooooo – yes. I see the person in the tree. I’m always finding souls hiding in plain sight. 🙂

    • Yes! I do too, Penny. I keep seeing people in trees. 😀
      Great point about lying fallow. I love that imagery. That’s what this season seems to be. I keep trying to make it something different. But I want to embrace this fallow season. 😀

  5. Way to get back up again, L. Marie. That’s what’s going to bring you the success you’ve earned. I’ve found myself in your shoes countless times (not literally…I swear I’ve never worn your shoes! *looks around sneakily*). Have you considered self-publishing? The rejections from the traditional route are tough, but you may have some readers out there that are dying for your work. Anyway, you’ve probably thought about it many times, but I just wanted to remind you of the other avenue to get your words out there. 🙂

    Hope you have a great day of crocheting and refreshing walks.

    • I have considered it, Phillip. I have respect for indie publishing and traditional publishing. I want whatever route I take to be the best route for me. Right now, I’m just not sure. But I appreciate your encouragement as always.

  6. Like Phillip says, I’m a reader dying for your work. You always encourage others with their writing (of course I refer to myself, too), I hope you find encouragement with your own. Take some more time, read and relax. You’ll pick up your mojo again.

  7. Thanks for sharing. Having been in your shoes, I know exactly what it takes to make yourself that vulnerable at this point. What helped me when I was in a very similar place last fall was to find a writing project that was small and that I could look at as play. I went with a non-fiction idea and went even further with the idea of play by deciding I’d use an artist’s sketchpad to work my ideas out in. I didn’t try to illustrate or anything, but just thinking in those terms helped me enjoy the process. That enjoyment–that pleasure–was what I needed. Now I’m working on a new novel and I’m doing the same thing–playing. It’s making me happy and if it does that, it’s worth it even if it never sells.

    • Thank you for your encouragement! I love the idea of a small project that’s like play. Years ago, I started a picture book about a tiny sweater that I knitted. I can’t find that book. Maybe that’s my cue to redo that book–this time with a crocheted sweater. 🙂

  8. Even though I cannot separate myself from writing (it would make me feel empty), I recognize it’s not ALL that I am. I’m glad you’ve come to a similar conclusion. Oh and great to hear about the rave review for the new film. Those friends you went with are pretty cool 😉

    • Thanks, Christy! I know what you mean about feeling empty. The day goes by so quickly when I’m deeply involved in a story or another piece of writing where I feel really inspired. I hope to return to that someday. 😀

  9. I once quit writing fiction for 10 years. I’ve also gone long stretches without writing any new. For instance, 2014 was a lost year for fiction. My blog has been the one place where I’ve continued to write, and I see it as a kind of self-publishing. It has also inspired my novels, months or years later.

  10. There is not good novel without a crisis to catch the interest of the reader. You explain this quite well, Linda . I guess you will apply this to the next of your own book.
    Love ❤
    Michel

  11. I’m with you, L. Marie. Whatever you do. There must be some Zen saying about having worthy goals but working toward them with tranquility and without undo care of whether you reach them or not. (I don’t know. I just made that up, but I think it makes sense.) It’s the little pleasures that make life worth living. (At this moment, approaching sunset, the sky is filled with little coral-tinged cloud puffs. Wow!)

    I wish I’d payed more attention to the first scene in Wonder Woman. I think it told what she had learned about life. Her goal of destroying war was too big and unrealistic. I can’t remember what she said in that first scene, but I think it was something about her having learned to expect less and still being okay with that.

    • I wish I remembered too, Nicki. I mostly remember her resolve at the end, once she realized what was true. You make me want to see the movie a third time!

      Those coral-tinged clouds sound lovely! Yesterday, while I walked down the platform at the train station to wait for my train, I took some photos of some beautiful daisies that had been planted behind the fence separating the platform from a business. They were magenta, fuchsia, and white. I was amazed that something so lovely was growing by a dumpster and a parking lot!

  12. L. Marie, you are definitely more than just what you ‘do.’ I understand completely what you mean, though! I think one of the reasons I took up art 12 or 13 years ago now, was because it was even more visual than trying to write is, for me. I could work on something and if I didn’t like it, I’d just turn the page and do something else. Yet, in my heart, I have always wanted to write children’s stories since I was a teenager. So, soon…I am beginning a correspondence course to learn how to write for children and teens. I have so many stories started, but I just either get bored with them or can’t figure out where to go next! So I understand the struggle!

    Thanks so much for your kind words about my art at my blog and Jill’s today! I appreciate you so much!

    And I LOVE your crocheted penguin and miniature fabric rooms! That is some amazing handiwork! My mom crocheted and tried to teach me when I was in my late teens. I didn’t last one lesson. The counting was just too much. 😉

    • Hi, Patsy! Thank you for your comment. I’m glad to know you’re learning to write for children and teens. That’s awesome! I hope you’ll be greatly inspired. What’s cool is that you can illustrate your own stories! I appreciate the fact that you keep striving to learn.

      The penguin pouch pattern can be found here: http://www.repeatcrafterme.com/2016/11/oriental-trading-activities-and-crochet-penguin-pouch.html . All of her patterns are wonderful!

      • You’re welcome, L. Marie. I just got my box of stuff today. Now I need to get offline and start reading! Ha, ha! It is going to be a challenge for sure. I have written one and illustrated it, but it still needs a lot of work. It’s called Larry the Lonely Leatherback. It’s on my blog. Thanks for the encouragement. I bet the patterns are great, but I don’t crochet at all; I could never get the hang of it. You do beautiful work, though! Keep up the great projects!

      • You’re welcome! And thank you very much. I have been trying to write a short children’s story today but keep crossing stuff out! So hard to write fiction! 😉

      • It is hard. But the drafting phase is a gift. You can write anything you want. It doesn’t have to sound good at that stage. When you revise, you can go back and fix things.

      • Yes, it is. That is true! The course I have just started said the same thing about the first piece I have to do. The instructor says to just get a story out so she can see how I think and write. I do love revising! That’s why I haven’t progressed too much on the novel I began a few years ago! Ha, ha. 😉

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