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The Hero Is Never Ready For the Guide To Leave

January 24, 2022

You are the Hero of your own Story.
– Joseph Campbell

If you’ve read this space at all you know that I recently had a short story published in an anthology. (Miscellany Volume II: Available now on Amazon!)

I have a long but sparse publishing history. I wrote my first book in 1997: Microsoft Exchange Connectivity Guide. Used copies still available on Amazon. (But, don’t buy it. The technical information in it has been obsolete for over two decades.)

Miscellany Volume II represents a goal that I’ve fostered since my first technical book came out. It’s my first foray into fiction writing.

During those long years where I “thought” about being a writer, some of my friends were actually becoming full-time writers. Today, I want to talk about Dave Wolverton. He wrote under the pen name of David Farland. But, I met Dave in the 1980s before either of us published anything.

Dave died last week. It’s taken me until now to be able to write about it. We are writers. We process things by putting them down in a string of words. I guess I wasn’t ready to process what his death means to me until now.

In 1987 Dave wrote his first novel. It was called On My Way To Paradise.

It was the start of a very successful career for Dave. He became a writer. I became an IT guy. It’s been a good career for me. I worked for WordPerfect. Then Microsoft. Then, private consulting. Then other companies. I got to travel. I wrote a lot of boring documentation (and a couple of tech books.)

But, whenever I saw Dave I’d talk about being a full-time fiction writer. . .someday. Dave knew that my someday, if it ever came, was going to be a long time coming. But, he was unfailingly supportive. He always believed in me. Even when I was not taking writing as seriously as needed if I really wanted to launch a professional career.

And then, I got more serious. Dave started a writer’s group: Apex Writers. Why “Apex”? Well, you know what an Apex predator is? The one at the top of the food chain. That’s what Dave wanted for his writers.

And I started to write. At one point, I sent Dave a copy of one of my stories.

Rodney, this is really good.

He offered some edits. We were good enough friends that if my writing had been terrible, he’d let me know. He told me that if my story were submitted to the Writers of The Future contest of which he was the main judge, it would do well.

And then, I got a chance to join another writers group called Word Addicts, and submit a story to their upcoming anthology.

Because Dave had convinced me I could write well enough to get paid for it.

Miscellany Volume II came out January 12, 2022. Dave passed away two days later.

The help he gave me was the same help he provided hundreds of students over the years. And many went on to worldwide success. Like, “Twilight” or Brandon Sanderson-level success. Because Stephanie Meyers and Brandon Sanderson also benefited from Dave’s mentorship.

Dave taught people how to tell stories. And especially stories that sell. A common type of story is the hero’s journey. Poor farm kid is forced to become a hero. There are specific elements to a hero’s journey: Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, One element is the idea that the hero has a guide character: Gandalf, Dumbledore, Obi-wan.

Dave was our guide as we each worked our way along our Hero’s journey.

But, while the hero’s journey has a guide, in order to become the hero the story needs, the guide must leave: Gandalf vs the Balrog, Dumbledore vs Voldemort’s agents, Obi-wan vs Darth Vader Until the guide leaves the hero cannot truly grow.

I, along with many of my fellow writers realized that in his passing Dave was still teaching us and giving us that chance to shine as the hero should after the guide is gone. The problem is that none of the heroes think they, we, are ready. Frodo still has a long journey, Harry Potter doesn’t know how to defeat the dark lord, Luke is only beginning to learn the ways of the force. The hero feels lost without the guide.

I lost my friend. And my guide character. It’s up to me now to take Dave’s last, best lesson to heart and become the writer that he’s seen in me for over 30 years of friendship.

And I shall miss him terribly

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

From → Book Reviews

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