Lit Life

Transitions and the Hero’s Quest

Oh, hi blogworld. Much like Amy, I’ve been away and busy. This has been a summer of transitions. Which got me thinking in a bookish way. I have a new place, and while I had more furniture than I needed to fill it, I was left with no coffee table. At the end of moving day, my mom stacked two big cardboard boxes one atop the other and “made” me one. Few things could have delighted me more, honestly. I’ve been calling it “transition furniture” but my guess is that it will be staying in place for quite awhile.

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The thing I’ve been coming to terms with about transitions, in both life and writing, is that they are dead useful. They exist for a reason. They are the in-between moments a character needs to get to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing. They’re not throw-aways. They’re not painless. They exist because of choices characters make. And while the next thing on the list, the next thing in the story, the next stop on the quest, are all more interesting at first glance, sometimes it’s necessary to sit in the in-between moments quietly. Sit, and become accustomed, and think, and write, and be present.

Looking back, those transition moments are sometimes more actionable than you originally thought. Moving is a transition. It got me from point A to point B and the things that followed happened because of the move. Transitions are tipping points, distinct choices. They can be useful in writing to give your character breathing room, time to develop.

I think that’s why so many books focused on a “hero’s quest” involve so many physical locations, and often include the journey from one place to the next. The dead quiet moments, bedding down for the night, a car ride, a day’s riding. These are times for our characters to pause because while the transition is monotonous, a well-realized character’s mind is not. With the body in motion, the mind can explore possibilities that further plot- make connections, come to conclusions, make decisions about how to handle the near future and beyond. I’ve been doing the same in my own transition moments, and just sitting there to bask in the monotonous can be a tough sell. But I think my mind is thanking me. I feel lighter.

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Transitions are also a great opportunity to redecorate, if you’re moving. And by “redecorate,” I of course mean tweak my bookshelf displays. I had more books than I originally thought (surprise surprise), so I’ve been finding new places to stash them. I found two small end tables with some shelving and decided one was a perfect place for my leather-bound books.

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I finally gathered my Harry Potter things more centrally instead of scattering them throughout other displays. (Amy’s display still puts me to shame!)

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And I found a few new treasures (like this amazing copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne) to place front and center. This particular copy was found at the Cleveland Flea, which had a book stall, literary cafe, and readings by amazing local authors to tie in with Cleveland Book Week (which has some amazing events planned if you’re local!).

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Reshelving my books (thanks, Amy!) made me more aware of what I have, what genres and authors I am drawn to. Stacking my Faulkner books makes a pretty display (with Gatsby on top, because why not), and my Hamlet booksafe sitting in front of my plays pleases me a lot more than it should.

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I am also pretty seriously in love with the set of heroine bookmarks Amy gave me for my birthday. Carrot Top Paper Shop has some awesome literary art with a tagline I can get behind “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” I spread the set out to display them since the art is so pretty.

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That’s a lot of what I’ve been ruminating over the past few weeks, but I’ve missed this place, missed writing. How do the monotonous transition moments get so freaking busy? Luckily, the summer is coming to a close (sorry back-to-schoolers!), and I think I’m about done sitting in these moments of transition. Time for the next thing.

Lit & Love,

Sarah Signature

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