• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
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  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

Emily Bieniek's New Year’s Resolution: To Devalue the Hero’s Journey

In the 45th in a series of posts on 2017 books entered for The Story Prize, Emily Bieniek, author of On the Great Land (Ward Street Press), compares her own reaction in a stressful situation to how characters behave in fiction.The night I was mugged started like any other night; better than usual, actually, because my boss let me go home early before the holiday break. I was riding my bike home from campus, as I always did, when I saw two people cross the street about a block in front of me. They looked too small, and therefore too young, to be fellow college students, which was odd because it was already 10:30 at night. What’re those kids doing out here? I thought. I wish I could paint the moment that I knew the situation was not just weird, but dangerous. Both children stopped in the middle of the street, and each raised a long, thick rod over their shoulder. Silhouetted in the streetlight, they looked like batters at home plate. It didn’t occur to me to turn around and bike away. As I drew closer, helplessly letting my wheels spin toward the pair, I realized that each kid was holding a golf club duct taped to a sturdier metal bar. I rolled slowly up to them and tried to sit up straighter on my seat.Writer's task: Get real“How can I help you?” I asked. I took my hands off my handlebars and held them up like the twin ends of a goal post. The children’s hoodies were drawn over their faces, but I could tell that they were both boys and that they were even younger than I had first thought - neither one was taller than my chest. If they hadn’t been carrying weapons, the situation might have been funny.The bigger boy pushed the smaller boy in front of him. The littler boy staggered forward and froze, his reinforced golf club raised over his shoulder. The older boy sighed. “Give me all your money!” he said, gesturing toward me with his own rod.“Okay,” I said. “I’m going to reach into my backpack to get my wallet, okay?”“Okay,” the older boy agreed.I reached into my backpack and held out my wallet.“You know what?” the boy said. “Just give me the whole thing.”“No problem.” I took my backpack off and gave it to the smaller boy. Both children relaxed. “You guys okay?” I asked. “Can I go now?”“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine,” the older boy said. “Thanks!” I pedaled off. They hadn’t taken my bike or any of my jewelry, and I’d put my housekeys in my pocket before leaving work. My neighbor found my driver’s license on his lawn the next morning. I hadn’t been carrying my laptop. The kids’ net gain was an old backpack, eight dollars, and a flip phone. Reflecting on that night, I’ve often wondered how I knew what to do and say to avoid getting beaten up. I had never been mugged before. Maybe the boys were never going to use those heavy golf clubs, but I think that the way that I instinctually sat up straighter and spoke calmly and politely impacted the outcome of the exchange. People act on instinct in novel and complex social interactions all the time. In a story, it is the writer’s job to show the reader why their characters respond the way they do to new experiences, but in reality, people often don’t understand their own intuition. In a hero’s journey, the entire story can lead to on one pivotal moment for which the hero practices through a series of tests, but this is not how real life works; in reality, the pivotal moment is lost in the course of the hero’s life. In 2018, I hope to refine my ability to capture a character’s history, to convey that the character isn’t introspective enough to sufficiently to know why they are acting in a certain manner when faced with a new social challenge, and to demonstrate that although the story has climaxed, the character’s life will continue beyond the confines of the page.

"Write without pay until someone offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this as a sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for"
Mark Twain

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Fast fact about writing

Writing most likely began as a consequence of political expansion in ancient cultures, which needed reliable means for transmitting information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records, and similar activities.