“What the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone. So when one hears the seer’s story, one responds “aha! This is my story. This is something I had always wanted to say but wasn’t able to say.” There has to be a dialogue, an interaction between the seer and the community.” Joseph Campbell.
That was my “aha!” moment, and with it came a stunning realisation about what it was I’d got wrong. I thought I wanted to be an author. I thought that from the age of about five, with flirtations with wanting to be other things along the way (Batman, rock star, teacher, traveller, the usual really). I’d always imagined that I’d find a way of being an author that was useful but never really put in the legwork there.
I don’t want to be an author after all. I want to be a seer. I want to put into words things that need expressing but that people don’t have words for yet. I want to be like a Troubadour of Mediaeval France, introducing the idea of personal love to a society that didn’t have that idea, and doing it mostly via songs. Only obviously I’m going to have to find some other concepts.
All the recent trauma and loss of direction makes sense to me now. I understand why I wasn’t happy. I was trying to do the wrong thing. I had misunderstood what it was that I wanted to be in the first place, and having that clarity now, I can better see where I need to be and what I need to be doing. I shall be chipping away at the non-fiction work (several in the pipeline now) and stepping back from the fiction a little. I need to spend more time trying to be the seer, not the author, and then come back when I have tales to tell. It’s going to be an adventure and I feel good about that prospect.
I’m also going to keep reading Joseph Campbell. I’ve got The Power of Myth on the go at the moment – a transcript of the interviews he did with Bill Moyers including bits that did not make it onto the TV. I’d not read any Campbell before, I confess, but am blown away. Some of it is dated, inevitably, but I have such a sense of finding a kindred spirit there, I’ve been coming to so many of the same conclusions on my own. It feels a bit like coming home. I’ve got a lot of reading to do, and that’s an excellent prospect.