A Writer's Hero Journey...Part 1

This offering pays homage to a number of different ideas and motifs. It represents (My version) of the Joseph Conrad Hero’s Journey. As such…It’s weird…and in six parts. I have posted it within the Literature category. To all those who hold the concept and practice of literature dear…I apologize. I hope you enjoy it.

~Thomas (real wife wanna-be writer)

Rated R for Language, Sexual Situations, Drug References, and Mental Nudity.


Source
My Richard Nixon 1972 Re-election Poster.
My Richard Nixon 1972 Re-election Poster.
Burning Man Symbol
Burning Man Symbol

Setting:

Attractive Ranch-style American home situated fifteen miles south of the Reno Downtown area. Real-life, unemployed, wanna-be writer Thomas, stares reflectively at the Richard Nixon re-election Campaign poster hanging on his wall while mentally noting the need to pick up Hunter S. Thompson’s “On the Campaign Trail ‘72”.

My reference points for the legendary gonzo-style journalist are gleaned from his abstract representation by Gary Trudeau in the Doonesbury cartoon series, my roommate’s small ‘Hunter S. Thompson shrine, and several viewings of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” --Johnny Depp version.

I’ve never read any of his books.

My roommate, Erika, views this as a literary omission of colossal proportions. Her husband, my other roommate, Jamie, is in agreement. In fact, we have the book-jacket-cover-art, in poster-form, prominently hanging in our living room. Unfortunately, that is all we have as the book has long since been read into oblivion.

“Reading it in the bath while drinking wine with unattended candles again?” I ask Erika.

“Yes.” She replies in the universally recognized monotone of shame. Eyes cast down.

“Burned or drowned?” I probe like a coroner attempting to fill in the ’Final cause’ box on the obligatory official paperwork.

“Both.”

Jamie and I exchange knowing glances. This was not the first burning/baptismal ceremony we have been through over the years.

This conversation had occurred the other day--before they’d bustled off to the week long counter-cultural festival—Burning Man.

Located 100-miles outside Reno, the annual event is staged amidst the splendid bareness of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. It is a celebration of artistic, individual, sexual, and creative drug use which explores and pushes individual barriers. Yeah…hippie stuff. It’s pretty cool.

As Erika is fond of calling it, “It’s the most awesome expression of Radical self-reliance, ever!”

This pronouncement is typically delivered in a breathy voice, hands clutched in tight fists and held to her side, face pointed down with her hair obscuring the (I’m sure) glazed expression in her eyes. Yeah…she’s a drama nerd.

I smile. I like Erika.

Why am I not going, you ask? It’s pretty expensive. I look glumly at my “Ad Program” revenue account. Enough said. Beside, I harbored an inkling, a sense really that the journey I was about to embark on would prove equally transcendental. Mostly though, it was the lack of money.

In all likelihood none of this will prove germane to the exciting “Hero’s Journey” we are about to embark on. I am out of post-it-notes, however, and the above cited Ad Program balance sheet negates purchasing new ones. I have to write it here…

[Go to Barnes and Noble]


The man at Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada. Photo by Keith Pomakis on 2002-08-29.
The man at Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada. Photo by Keith Pomakis on 2002-08-29. | Source
"Burners'
"Burners' | Source

Enter…Real Life Friend…Faye…

Any participant (burner) on their way to (the annual awesomeness that is) Burning Man is a continual ongoing compiler of lists; mental lists, typed lists, scribbled lists, half-remembered lists, and half-forgotten lists.

Food, glowing stuff, extra bike inner-tubes, water, gifts for other burners, fun sexy-minded clothes, more water, sensible climate-minded clothes, housing needs, hygiene needs, party needs, and artistic needs…each…ranked in order of importance by the individual burner…it’s a delicate balance. Radical self-reliance.

It’s like being transported to a week long carnival staged on the sun by day and a real cold place in space by night. Radical Self-reliance.

When Faye arrives at my house…she’s just such a compiler of lists. Those living in the Reno area and wanting to go to the “Burn,” …but aren’t…we are well aware of these lists and are tired of these lists. Still, Faye has her shit together.

“Hey dear-ums,” I say as she drops into the chair next to me. She begins digging in her purse.

Faye is a taciturn girl. Mid-20s, great feet, very pretty, confident, incredible long-dark red wavy curly hair, and with outspoken opinions when she is ready to speak. The problem tends to be that during the quiet times—like allied radiomen before D-Day;--I tend to fill the airwaves with nervous chatter. Another issue is the concept of the decibel. Faye is a low-talker and I am a hard-of-hear-er. Also, my concentration tends to wander…

Unwilling to necessarily admit these infirmities to the nubile young woman, I attempt to compensate by inferring what I thought I might have heard. The other (other) problem is that I don’t, as a result, track conversations very well…

There's nothing going on with us…you know…she and I are just friends. Still, Faye displays a certain natural sexual chemistry that's impossible to deny and difficult to ignore. Hence, the nervous chatter.

The realities of our relationship are these; I'm a good twenty years her senior and, as such, there's a considerable difference in our maturity levels. She doesn’t seem to mind that she’s more mature than me but I have had some embarrassing lapses over the years. I can be odd. I like to think we have moved beyond them.


Chemical structure of THC
Chemical structure of THC | Source
Marijuana plant
Marijuana plant | Source

Casual Chit-chat…

“Hi Thomas,” She says as she locates the object of her search.

Her visit's the result of a call I had placed an hour earlier.

“Hey Faye. Do you know a guy?” I had asked.

“I do know a guy.” She confirmed.

In fact, I knew that she ‘knew’ a guy because I have been calling about ‘said’ guy (off and on) for the past six years.

The other problem with being left behind on the Burning Man party-train…your friends usually take the good weed with them. No one blames them…still…

Faye throws the half-ounce of California-grown, weapons-grade marijuana on my desk. I give her the money, pleased that we had just contributed to the economy as much as any staunch Republican.

“Getting this didn’t throw you off schedule did it? You all ready to go?” I inquire while inspecting the bag and loading a bowl.

In the back of my writer’s mind I can sense Creative Voice (finally) getting out of bed… (Figures…)

“No, I was going to stop there anyways. I still have to pick up some more water, get my toes done, get my hair braided and wrapped in ribbons... I should be headed out late this evening…” Faye reports as she runs down her latest list...


Three A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft fly in formation over Tucson, Ariz., during an air refueling training mission April 14, 2006. The A-10 aircraft are assigned to the 358th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
Three A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft fly in formation over Tucson, Ariz., during an air refueling training mission April 14, 2006. The A-10 aircraft are assigned to the 358th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. | Source
General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger in an A-10 Thunderbolt on display at the ILA 2006 in Berlin / Germany
General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger in an A-10 Thunderbolt on display at the ILA 2006 in Berlin / Germany | Source
Source

Casual Chit-chat turns Awkward…

Unfortunately, upon mentioning that she was getting her toes done, my concentration dawdled while her sentence continued apace.

I look up from her perfectly sculptured foot to her quizzical face. She had stopped talking. I wasn’t quite sure which tunnel the conversational thread had ducked into….um…

“I agree! The airframe of the A-10 Warthog ground-support aircraft (not to mention their 20-mm cannon…pfft…pfft…don’t get me started…) would have certainly stemmed the tide--had the Soviet 32nd Guard’s Army shown the temerity….”

I had picked the wrong conversational tunnel…I could tell from her face…still…determined to muscle through the awkwardness (like Dick Cheney walking through his third heart attack of the day) I gracefully managed to merge the A-10 attack-aircraft comment back into the normal flow of conversation…

“So, you all ready to go?” I lamely repeat.

“I am.” Faye responds while taking a hit. She’s used to me.

“What are you doing this week?” she asks.

“Well, I plan on doing some multi-tasking shit.” I reply while taking the pipe from her.

She looks doubtful of my abilities in this realm.

“Oh yeah?” She asks skeptically as she exhales the thick cloud of smoke.

“Yes. I’m going to quit smoking cigarettes….No, No…really…” I forestall her doubt. "I think this is the best time…mostly…the people I love will be at Burning Man…when I’m feeling bitchy…I will smoke pot and work out…also…I’m doing another writing project.”

I explain the project and show her what I've written (the stuff before she had come into the room). I sit back satisfied while reloading the bowl. Faye seems skeptical.

“How many times have you tried to stop smoking before?” She asks absently while looking at my notes and the little I had written…

“You are writing about a Hero’s journey in which you go in as ‘Thomas’ and come out as some ‘real’ writer named ‘ThoughtSandwiches’? Like a Homeric Journey? The Odyssey or something?”

“Yeah…The Odyssey is kind of complicated…I was thinking more “O’ Brother Where Art Thou. Um…maybe something Homeric…” I vaguely confirm. “This will be my twelfth attempt at not smoking…kind of like the 12-step thing.” I point out sagely.

[Find out definition of Homeric Journey]

“And you intend to intersperse your random thoughts…thrown out…in the story itself because you ran out of post-it-notes?”

“Oh. Do you have post-it-notes?” I ask hopefully.

“No.”

“Then, yes. I intend to intersperse my random thoughts throughout the story because I do not have any post-it-notes.” I stare at her levelly while taking a hit and passing the pipe along.

“Isn’t your reading public going to find that annoying?” She asks while accepting the burning embers.

I review the cross-section that represents my ‘reading public’. “No…both of them are pretty avant guard I think…”


The Good People at Jiffy Lube...
The Good People at Jiffy Lube... | Source

Exit…Real Life Friend…Faye…

“Hmm…well good luck. I just remembered I have to go. I need to get an oil change before I take off. I thought I had that on a list…” She trails off.

We both stand and share a quick hug. I wish her luck and tell her to have fun. She, likewise, wishes me luck on the no-smoking thing and my literary pursuits.

As I walk her to her car I offer to email a copy of the finished story to her while asking if she had ever read any of my stuff. The look of distaste that quickly crosses her face indicates she has. No higher praise from Faye.

I smile. I like Faye.

When I return to the office, Creative Voice is standing next to my desk in my underwear and his bathrobe. He’s in need of a shave and scratching his nether regions.

[Buy new underwear]

“You drank all the coffee,” he complains until his eyes alight upon the bag left by Faye, “Oh…”

“Yeah. You ready to work?” I ask while sitting at the computer…

(End Part One)


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Comments 27 comments

jhamann profile image

jhamann 5 years ago from Reno NV

Sam commented on how we were living on the Sun but it was all right because he had brought enough water.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

@ jhamann...so it was a good description then? Water is a good thing out there!


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Alright Thought! 'Sock it...to me?' Burning Man- where's the dried Cane Toad venom haha! Pretty cool is an understatement Thought..lol! Hey, Faye's my kinda gal if she's got great feet. All kidding aside this is an awesome fic write and part one. Different, written in a style you don't see every day- and that's a compliment- the pics go like ham n eggs with the narrative; your a real writing talent ole boy; and Burning Man here we come! Part two through six? Absolutely.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

@ Alastar...You are indeed a brave man my friend if you make it all the way through part 6!! I certainly hope you like it...as always...thanks for your kind words!


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

You sooo remind me of people I used to hang out with there in Reno.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

@ Becky...I sure hope they are good memories!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Where can I get one of those Nixon posters?

Excellent write.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Hi Will...I'm glad you were able to stop in and take a peek at these ramblings. I actually got the poster at an antique shop here in Reno ($20). The guy was packing it in when I came across it. As such...I believe you can get one of these posters off my wall.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

I do love your writing... I have to say though, I have been busy the last few days and it looks like you through a bomb of post-it... err you ran out... ramblings on top of the hubworld. Now I am playing catch up... so... off to read the next section.

Thoughts right now... I am almost 99.9999998% certain you have a thing for feet. They seem to keep coming up! :)


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

hi Barbergirl...this was my little project while everyone else I know was at Burning Man. (Perhaps I will go next year!) I kind of actually do have a thing for feet but thanks for giving me the .00000002% chance to redeem myself!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

No problem... I had to give you just a little! ;)


Dave Powell profile image

Dave Powell 5 years ago from Winchester, MA

Love this series! Voted up and awesome!

Sincerely,

Dave


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Hi Dave, I'm very glad you liked my Hero's Journey series...but really...I just plugged in the GPS coordinates...Thanks for the votes!


elucidator profile image

elucidator 5 years ago from SoCal

Look forward to reading through the series. I am not familiar with Joseph Conrad and need to do a bit more writing research it looks like. I was reading ktrapp and your comment caught my eye regarding growing up in the Chicago area in the 70's. That was me as well. I moved often, but Chicago is dear to my heart (I'm a huge sports fan) and have those great childhood memories of field trips to the museums, peering over Chicago from the John Hancock and Sears towers, etc. Look forward to following your hubs.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Hi elucidator....ah it is good to have a fellow Chicago-er following my random scribbles. As far as Chicago and sports go....we lived on the north-side of town but we were Chicago White Sox fans and would happily tromp to the south-side of town to Commisky Park for hours of remembered fun! I hope you enjoy the remainder of this series...it was super fun to write I gotta tell ya! Thanks for the follow...I look forward to reading your stuff as well!


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

It's good to see you put someone else's foot in it for a change, a nice foot by your account. Yes you have gone a bit troppo as the Aussies say in the output dept' and I have had a massively busy week so like Barbiegirl I'm also trying to play catch up.

I don't really want to plough through all six stories, but I feel I must in case you do decide to go to the festival and achieve a great feat, or pair of them. So onward I tarry.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Hey Keith...

Remember to leave bread crumbs for the journey home! This is long...there are rest stops along the way...I encourage you to use them...I also hope that you like it.

Thomas

PS...you don't find a better foot then Faye's...


nemanjaboskov profile image

nemanjaboskov 5 years ago from Serbia

I smiled. I like Thomas.

Can't wait to read the rest of the story :)


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Neman...

I smiled. I like neman.

Although every story we write takes on great importance as we write them and older stories fall by the wayside...i gotta say...this story was the funnest one to write by far.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Thanks,

Thomas


nemanjaboskov profile image

nemanjaboskov 5 years ago from Serbia

Hi, Thomas!

First of all, I would like to say that it's awesomely cool you find the time to answer each and every one of our comments, which means that you are a nice guy :)

ow, I can't help but tell you that I really had a good laugh after reading your reply to my comment, and I'll explain why...

You conveniently named me Neman, which I don't mind since no English speaker could ever correctly suppose what my name was from seeing something like 'nemanjaboskov'...

My name is Nemanja, and my surname Boskov :)

Now comes the reason why a had a great laugh when you called me Neman - In Serbian, which is my language, neman means dragon, and my real name Nemanja has nothing to do with dragons..

I enjoyed this unintentional pun simply because you have managed to do what every writer with comedic aspirations hopes for - you have made someone laugh without even trying to do it :)

If I had a hat, I'd take it off. Since I do not have a hat right now, I take off my imaginary fedora and say WELL DONE, Thomas! :)


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Hello Boskov...

I, likewise, doft my imaginary fedora to you good sir and thank you for your understanding as regards your name mangle-ment!

It is not I that is cool...it's folks like you and others who kindly take the time to scope out my stuff and leave a great comment that inspires the desire to write, yet another, crazy story. How could I not respond, right?

I am glad we have become friends and I must say...you are my first friend from Serbia. Your command of written English is far better than my command of written Serbian...or written English.

That said...have a great night!

Thomas


jhamann profile image

jhamann 4 years ago from Reno NV

So much better, your flow is much better after edit, I will work on part 2 later but until then I think I will bring this back up from the dusty warehouse. Jamie


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Jamie,

Thanks for giving this one another look! I was able to pull out a lot of unneeded crap from this. Let me know what you think of the remainder...I'm coming to the conclusion that 'more' can always come out!

Thanks,

Thomas


jhamann profile image

jhamann 4 years ago from Reno NV

It is that time again, and so I share......


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Jamie,

It IS that time of year again!! Enjoy the burn my friend...enjoy the burn!

Thomas


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Lets try again today, Thomas! A Hero Writer's Journey is so very worth the effort.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Alastar,

Your persistence and kind words warm the cockles of my heart! As an added bonus...I got to type "cockles" today!

Thanks my friend!

Thomas

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