Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Which Author Would You Choose?

What if you could sit down with any author for a chat? Who would it be, Hemingway, Dumas, Shakespeare, Rowling, Scieszka?

I choose all of the above, but there is one person that I regret I never got to meet or take a class from, and that is Joseph Campbell. My own writing, as well as my teaching of writing, sits on his hero journey foundation.  If you aren’t familiar with Campbell’s famous story structure jump over to Lisa Gail Green’s blog for a quick and concise overview.

My regret in never interacting with Campbell was partially satiated when I discovered THE POWER OF MYTHS PROGRAMS. This is series of discussions between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell on a myriad of topics including the hero journey, ritual, and mythology. They discuss story origins in myths from around the world with both reverence and humor, and show us how our work directly relates to the world's great stories.

Even though I will never get to shake the warm hand and look into the wise eyes of my literary hero, I can still be a student of his precious words. 

Let me entice you with some of treasures from the interviews: 

“Mythology to him (Campbell) was the song of the universe, music so deeply embedded in our collective unconscious that we dance to it even when we can’t name the tune.” Bill Moyers

“Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.” Joseph Campbell

“We are seeking an experience of being alive.” Joseph Campbell

And here, my friends, is our creative call to arms:

"Artists are the myth-makers of today." Joseph Campbell

Campbell’s fascinating perspective on the world is an invaluable filter in which we can view our own writing. He will forever be my tribal elder and mentor through his works and thankfully his beautiful preserved spoken words.

Hungry for more luscious Campbell quotes...Click away.

What writer would you invite for a creative conversation?


  1. I'd love to meet Anne Carson, Annie Proulx, Alice many. :)

    "LR" (not anonymous)
    for some reason google identity not showing and unable to comment as usually do

  2. Such an awesome post!! Wow. IDK who I'd chat with... Rowling for sure. Probably more of my heroes of today like Libba Bray, Holly Black, Suzanne Collins, and Cassandra Clare. That way it might happen some day!

  3. Love this post and love Joseph Campbell! Who would I love to meet....Jane Austen? J.R.R. Tolkein?

  4. Joseph Campbell has long been one of my heroes. His work, as well as Manly Hall who preceded him, have greatly influenced my writing. And, of course, love the great Rowling!

  5. Lisa, Lee, Kara, and Susan: I think we're going to need a bigger table.

  6. This one's easy for me: Jodi Piccoult. I looooove her books. Her voice, her powerful book subjects, the way she shows the reader a completely different side of a complex issue. Love, love, love (and envy) her.

  7. Wow, I have to read up on Campbell...he sounds amazing.

    As far as authors for me...seriously, I would take ten minutes with any YA author at all. I would also really enjoy sitting down with Jane Austen or Diana Gabaldon:)

  8. There are so many. Sarah Dessen. Cassandra Clare. Lisa McMann. Simone Elkeles. The list is long. :D

  9. Julie - HOUSE RULES is on deck in my reading pile. Sounds like I'm going to get hooked.

    Deana - You'll love Joseph Campbell. He is magical and logical at the same time.

    Stina - I think we'll have to abandon the table and set up author booths. Maybe like a speed dating events so we can meet as many people as possible.

  10. "Follow your bliss." is my favorite Joseph Campbell quote. I was introduced to him during the Hero's Journey Highlights Foundation retreat a few years back. It has had an amazing impact on not only my writing, but my life!

    I want to meet Lucy Maude Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis and although I've met Jerry Spinelli, I want to sit down and pick his brain!

  11. I'd love to chat with some contemporary YA authors, but I'd love to have tea with Jane Austen.

  12. Oh Lydia, I like the idea of tea with Jane. You pour.

    Michelle - I think anyone who has been exposed to Joseph Campbell comes away enchanted.

  13. I love these kinds of thoughts. I'd love to sit down with Jane Austen or George Lucas. Jane for her ability to nail dialogue and George for his imagination.

  14. Hmmm. It's a toss up between Leo Uris and James Hilton. A lot of people don't know James Hilton, but he was a prolific novelist and screenwriter back in the 30s & 40s - was instrumental behind many major motion pictures of the time. And his stories are timeless - Goodbye Mr. Chips, Lost Horizon & my favorite Random Harvest are some of his best.

  15. Pk - Okay let's go up to Skywalker Ranch and poke our noses through the gate. Maybe George will come out and talk to us.

    Laurisa - LOST HORIZON has always been a special book to me. I have a very old paperback copy that I keep close to my heart.

  16. I admit I haven't heard of Joseph Campbell, but I would really enjoy talking to JK Rowling. :)

  17. You've certainly chosen a few of the top writrs and thinkers. I'd add old F. Scott Fitzgerald. He gave voice to the 20's and I've always loved reading about that period.

    Then I'd add Faulkner too. His tales never leave me alone after I read them--they'd sort of trail like ghosts--nudging me to remember things their author wrote.

  18. Michelle - We're going to have to invite JK Rowling for a weekend retreat so she can spend time with us all.

    Lee - You are so right!

  19. I would love to sit down with Stephen King. I love that man. So many people think he's a hack horror writer, but they would be so wrong! When you read a large portion of his books, you see how masterful he's been, and how he's tied them all together. It's amazing.

    Screenwriter Blake Snyder would also be incredible to sit down with. His book Save the Cat is amazing.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  20. Angela - I belonged to a Stephen King book club back in the CHRISTINE days. I haven't had a good night's sleep since I read PET CEMETERY. Just downloaded SAVE THE CAT to my Kindle. I've heard it's awesome.

  21. Hello new here! I would love to get a 1:1 with the likes of Tina Fey. Her memoir is cracking me up in stitches!

  22. Sophie - Tina kills me on 30 Rock, especially all her misplaced Star Wars references.

  23. LOL I know!

    Her book is really surprisingly well written .. I know she started out as a writer but I kind of forget from watching her on television you know?