The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, March 30, 2009

In New York

Been in New York, in fact am writing this from JFK airport, while Jason tumbles around the big bean-bag chair in the airport lounge. Tananarive is headed to Florida for a week with her parents. After she gets back, I take off for Norwescon (next week) and two weeks after that, I head to Atlanta and Grand Rapids, Michigan for various business and personal functions. In Atlanta I'll be training with my first karate instructor, Steve Mohammad. Seventy years old now, and still punchin'. Love him to death, and probably the last chance I'll have to really train with him. want to mak the most of it, so I'll be working out a little harder over the next few weeks.

We were in New York for two things: a celebration of Octavia Butler's work at Medgar Evers college, and a celebration of somebody named Tananarive Due, held at a nice little theater in Harlem, organized by our "Tennyson" editor, Malaika Adero. Room was packed. Sold a lot of books, met some nice people, and heard from several of them how much they loved "Lion's Blood." I'm working on the proposal for the third book in that series, THE BRONZE NILE. For some reason, I want to deal a bit more with contact with India, even though the book deals with the Civil War. I have some loose ends to wrap up: the end of slavery, for instance, and Kai's relationships to Aidan, Babatunde, Lamiya and Nandi. I think I'm going to create a novella that details Kai and Aidan's journey down the Mississippi ("The Bronze Nile") and then weave it into the novel. For some odd reason, I want to re-read "Huckleberry Finn." Wonder why?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why Live?

I am of two minds when it comes to "Fat Acceptance." Treating people like human beings is one thing. Pretending that obesity isn't a disease is a grotesque disservice to our children. I don't quite know how society walks this line.


I haven't read the book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" but I've read an article written by the author, and heard the author, Gary Taubes, interviewed. He sounds like an intelligent man with much to say. I don't argue that there isn't some merit there--I'm saying that, in terms of fat loss, Physics Supercedes Biology. There is nothing simple about the process of weight management, but the simplest is the incontrovertable truth, completely undeniable scientifically, that if you take in fewer calories than you burn up, you lose weight. PERIOD. No argument is possible, because any argument would disagree with or violate the basic laws of physics, laws of conservation of matter and energy.

Now then...grasp something. My position is that people who are carrying enough additional weight that it would make another human being are dealing with emotional issues more than lifestyle issues. Just a matter of observation and conversations with these folks, over the course of fifty years. The amount of physical and emotional pain, the lack of energy, the discrimination...I'd have to believe that people are much dumber than I believe them to be not to think there is a secondary pay-off, a REASON for the armor.

Now, then...if I'm right about that, then you're talking about ego survival needs that are huge, and mostly subconscious. What will it do to stay where it is? The process of weight loss ALWAYS involves creating a caloric deficit. As hard as it may be to do this, it is brutally simple.

And the part of you that wants to keep the weight on has a simple solution: it complicates it all. Rather than look at the physics, let's look at the biology! Fast and slow metabolisms, genetic, food allergies, processed food as opposed to! How can we possibly sort through all of this?

How about the biochemistry of it all? "Good Calories and Bad Calories"--if I can just get the right balance of fats and carbs and proteins, I don't have to reduce the number of calories, I can just...

How about my social networks! Peer pressure, social obligations, advertising, supersized drinks...

How about relationships, horoscopes, the area you live in, your birth order...I've seen all of these factored in. And many of them have merit. And all of them are irrelevant compared to Calories In, Calories Out. You can eat the very worst calories in the world, and if you don't get enough of them, you will lose weight, starve, and die. And you can eat the very "best" calories, and if you eat too many of them, you'll get as big as a house. Until you have dealt with the physics of it, all you are doing is avoiding confrontation with the actual demons driving you. We've all got them, yours just parade in public.

"So while the general idea that you need to reduce your input, increase your output, or do both has some merit, it's not that simple."

"Has some merit"? You must be kidding. You're saying, in effect, "well, conservation of matter and energy has some merit, but..." No. It is exactly that simple. You cannot find a single animal that can take in fewer calories than it burns up without losing weight. Yes, there are additional levels of complexity--but look at ANY other factor and your efforts will dissolve into a welter of competing opinions. Everything else is insanely more complicated, which is why there is a new diet book published every week. Most of them tries to obscure this truth. And they make hundreds of millions of dollars because people don't want to face this truth. And truth it is. If you disagree, find me a single instance of an animal or human being taking in fewer calories than they burn, and gaining fatty tissue, or even maintaining. Go ahead. Please. A single case.

You would be making medical and scientific history, friend. Physics supersedes biology.


Oh! And the Tibetans are great for kids. But I ask Jason if he wants "easy" or "hard" and about half the time he wants "hard." Most bad behavior (in my mind) is an ab-reaction to stress. Teach them to control stress response, and the behavior improves. Learn to manage your breath under stress, and integrate that response to the level of habit, and stress just doesn't hurt you any more.


Marty S. said:

"For instance, lets accept that being overweight will shorten your lifespan. A longer lifespan may not be a goal of every individual.
Your three criteria for being happy/successful are
1) a great body
2) a great relationship
3) Financial success

if you live too long the body goes, your partner passes and unless financial success implies Bill Gates type money your money goes. So why would you want to live that long."


O.K., Marty. In essence, you're asking the most important question a human being can ask: "why should I bother? Why get out of bed at all? What's the point? It all ends in the grave..."

I think that any thoughtful person has asked themselves these questions, and if you don't find a good answer, why, you do just vegetate or retreat from life.

Let me be clearer before I answer. I say that the safest way to approach life, and to access our greatest growth potential, with safety, is to work on all three major aspects of life simultaneously.

1) Body. Feel good in the morning, have enough energy to work all day and party on the weekend, if you look at yourself naked in the mirror, you match your own criteria for an attractive body--you'd want to boff yourself. I guess that means 'a great body" but that's not necessarily an underwear model.

2) A great relationship. Soulmate. Absolutely.

3) Financial success. Enough money to support yourself and two other people, doing something you love doing. Money as a tool, not an obstacle.


I've never met a single human being who didn't want one of these three. And more than 95% of people want all three. They may not say it directly, but their actions, unguarded complaints, and voiced frustrations say that they are lying--to others, and to themselves. They want these things, they are just afraid that admitting it, or having it, will somehow cause more pain than pleasure.

There are no direct words to really answer these questions, but there are experiences that answer them just fine. Life is best lived when it is in alignment with our basic animal drives, our emotional needs, our intellectual bent, and our spiritual growth. The only reason there is any question about any of it, is that many of us are no longer in contact with our animal drives, the most basic level of our existence.

People will say: "I'm not motivated! I don't care about anything!" but start choking them, or set their pants on fire, and suddenly they are motivated as hell.

THEY THINK TOO MUCH. And their emotions are a tangle that Alexander the Great couldn't un-knot. Any animal has a survival drive, and tries to move away from pain and toward pleasure. In some ways, I consider that the most basic intelligence test: do you hurt? Does your heart hurt? Have you figured out how to spend your precious days doing things that feed your hungers and make your heart happy? Are you surrounded by love? Trying to move away from pain and toward pleasure involves, ultimately, means understanding long-term benefits as opposed to short-term gains.

Human beings, like other animals, will try to supply themselves with the basic needs: comfort/shelter, food, sex, control of their immediate environment. I've met people who have voluntarily withdrawn from the sexual game, and the healthy ones are the ones who know that they can get well laid whenever they want, but decide to commit themselves to a higher purpose. Or feel that they are beyond that point in their lives: often these are people over sixty, especially those who had long and happy relationships with a spouse who died. I've met some people who seem completely content, never complain, and don't seem to leak energy at all.

The rest of 'em? They've been hurt, or rejected, or consider themselves failures in the dating/marriage market to the point that intimacy isn't worth the cost. But the vast majority of us want all of these. Let's look at them.

1) Shelter/Comfort? This requires applied energy, which means either building it yourself, or trading for it. In our culture, such trade is in the form of money. Abundant physical energy makes it MUCH easier to earn money. Partnership with a significant other increases security (on average) and resources. Incidentally, the easiest way for a man to improve his attractiveness is to have his own house.

2) Food? Requires money and energy.

3) Sex? Requires having the attractive qualities that hit the hind brain. Some mixture of physical vibrancy, intellectual smarts, emotional warmth, the appearance of fertility or the ability to protect children. Good genetic material. Most mating rituals involve these things. The MAINTENANCE of a relationship requires a subtler, deeper set of skills, although they are associated. Love and sex aren't the same thing, but when you are sexually attracted to someone you love and trust who can ALSO be a good business partner...that person is lifetime partner potential.

4) Control of immediate environment. Money or power come in here. Getting thrown out of your apartment for non-payment is a humiliating experience. Sleeping on the street is no fun. Working at jobs you hate, living in neighborhoods that are unappealing, having to take crap from authority figures...just being able to raise your children as you see fit...all of these things require money and power.


You're never going to really have "just enough" of anything. You are always going to have either more than you need or less than you need. If one of the simplest principles in life is to avoid pain and seek pleasure (which, to work in the long term, must be modified with other moral and discipline principles) then you want a safety net. You want enough money to help through the hard times. You want a relationship that is so strong and deep that you can, again, get through the hard times. You want a body that is a plus and not a minus in every situation: that can run for a bus, carry a wounded child, dance with a new love, and resistant to illness and disease.

Since it only takes a couple of hours a week to be in GREAT shape, and the average American watches television for 19 hours, I simply don't believe it is a matter of "no time." And when people talk about all the pain that they feel: loneliness, health, bad backs and joints, entire theory of human life leads me to the conclusion that some part of them NEEDS the weight, and until they come to grips with it, they are going to continue to get non-optimal results.

Who doesn't want to be beautiful by their own standards? If it is a matter of feeling unsafe when sexually alluring, who wouldn't want to be powerful enough to feel safe enough to be beautiful by their own standards?

Every baby is born knowing only life, and fighting for each breath. They are intense and ready to live...and babies that don't have that quality are diagnosed as ill, and often die. A person without the drive to be all they can be, now, regardless of what happens tomorrow, has, in my mind, taken so much damage over the years that they have given up.

When I meet someone who has given up on their childhood dreams, who has forgotten the search for love, who neglects their body, I confess: I assume I am looking at damage. Such a manifestation doesn't match animal behavior, nor does it match the march of human history, nor do I consider it to be in alignment with the spiritual path (except for the voluntary renunciate). Love, health, and striving for a good hunt or harvest are a part of every human culture since the beginning of time.


And if our love will one day die? If our money means nothing in the grave? If our bodies shrivel up and blow away..?

What in the world does that have to do with the Now? Now is the only moment that has power, it is the only time we are alive. You are robbing your days of passion and aliveness to worry too much about tomorrow. At the same time, you must think of tomorrow if you would behave appropriately today. That's called being an adult.

Security and shelter need energy and partnership. They also contribute to resting deeply, and attracting a mate.

Physical health and fitness make it easier to work hard and long, increases functional intelligence, and makes it easier to attract a partner (energy is intoxicating!)

Love inspires us to believe in ourselves. Sex leads to children, who force us to mature and give us wisdom. Makes us want to provide security and shelter for our families (which needs energy)

All three of these things interlock. Ultimately, they teach us what we need to learn of this life. Understanding this life helps us to sort through the competing spiritual teachings to find a true Way to deal with our inevitable death.

Why be the most we can be? Why strive to learn the limits of our existence? Why love, strive, care...since we die? A question as old as humanity. Got no motivation? Have someone stick your head in a swimming pool, and you'll find all the motivation you need. THAT is the truth. The rest is just the damage we accrue as we pass through life, and the chattering in your head.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The glimpses I've seen of J.J. Abrams' new STAR TREK movie look terrific. FINALLY someone has the nerve to re-imagine the original material. One complaint I had about the movies: where are the creatures? I mean, monsters, you know? Big, meat-eating animal thingies. Even on the television series they occassionally had monsters. The movies all seemed like they were consciously trying to limit themselves to television-scale imagery, and as a result, the films all felt...small.


Great meditation this morning. Clear and strong. Should be a good work day.


Strange, strange thing. Watched QUANTUM OF SOLACE on DVD yesterday...and liked it quite a bit. I'm wondering about my original reaction. For one thing, the action scenes were far clearer on my 42 inch screen than they were in the original theatrical presentation. The direction was still a little sketchy--there were a couple of times when I just couldn't figure out exactly where everyone was. But the acting was terrific, the writing was better than I remembered it, and...well, it just looked and felt a lot better. A fight scene in an elevator was still absurdly choppy, but another fight scene was among the best in the entire series, and I was dumbfounded that Eon productions would let their director frame and shoot his movie so it would look better on the small screen than it did on the big one. Of course, maybe if you have to choose one or the other, it would make sense to choose the medium that will last decades, not weeks. But clarity is important in 007 action scenes.

Really, in a number of ways it didn't feel like a "Bond" movie at all...except that it did, in the re-invention sense. I'm more excited about the next movie now.


"Let The Right One In" is possibly the best vampire movie I've ever seen. This Swedish film about the friendship between two young children in a town where people are being mysteriously slaughtered...well, you don't want to know more than that. Extremely artful and almost dream-like, "Let the Right One In" is genuinely disturbing, and actually engenders the off-kilter emotional responses to vampirism that so many films strive for, and so few achieve. I don' t want to say more about it. See it!


Adam Crafter quantified the difference between diet, exercise, and diet/exercise quite nicely:

"I have different set points at different action vs. eating combos:

If I'm lazing about, and not IFing I can get near 260lbs. (historically)
Just hard exercise, normal diet: 230ish.
Just IF, no exercise 225.
IF, some exercise 210
IF, hard exercise 190 and possibly below."


This is so clear: If you want to lose weight, control both input and output. Anything else is playing a game.

It is heartbreaking that so many people don't want to hear it. Almost every week, I hear something new about the negative health effects of overweight. And the way society reacts? Frankly, society reacts to overweight the way it reacts to sickness--avoidance, a bit of disgust, a lack of attraction. And we can regret the way we treat the unwell, perhaps, but this is the situation as I see it: there ARE a raft of real-world, non-subjective negative effects, we know it even if some are in denial, and the social reaction is based on this reality. I suspect that we react as if the "disease" is communicable (which it is: habit patterns definitely spread from one friend or member of the family to another). And a relatively small percentage of the American population has a specific attraction to the well-padded, even if we accept it in the people we love. I think fighting against this isn't going to be very productive. If there wasn't a giant amount of research linking obesity to a wide range of life-shortening issues, that might be different.

Assuming there are no major fear or power issues, the biology/physics of weight loss are simple (if sometimes grueling). And what bothers me is all of the otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people who continue to obscure the realities. Inevitably, people talk about either exercising OR "dieting." Never both at the same time, because once you walk down that road, you meet the truth, and that's something that we, as humans seem to be willing to go to any lengths to avoid.

ᅠDiet (lifestyle change)+Exercise+Weight loss

Or turbo-charge that:

I.F.+ Interval training+Fear Removal exercise=REALLY efficient weight loss.


So far, 90% of the mornings when I do yoga with Jason, his school behavior is perfect. More than if we're just hanging out, and MUCH more than if I am preoccupied in the morning. If the yoga has something to do with it, it might be just teaching him to breathe properly under stress. Or center himself. Or take his bountiful energy and put it into something relatively quiet (I use both ordinary yoga, the Tibetans, and Scott Sonnon's Prasara flows). Or maybe it is just the power of Daddy Time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Name of graphic technique

Does anyone know about the computer graphic technique where one image is hidden in another?


I'm taking off for New York in a couple of days. T and I will be at an event honoring Octavia Butler at Medgar Evers College this weekend. You can learn more at:


I got REALLY sore doing KB juggling stuff once I took the sets up to 60 seconds, and the recovery time down to 30 seconds. Then I combined the juggling with the "DOE Man-Maker" protocol (the one I call a "Fat Ripper.") Basically, in the "Man-Maker" you do a set of swings or snatches, jog lightly for 30-60 seconds, then another set of swings or snatches. Amazing exercise, one used by counter-terrorism guys in the Department of Energy. Anyway, when I did those with the juggling in place of the swings, I felt a LOT less sore, but was actually doing more work. I think that the mechanical flushing of toxins really helps there. I was using a treadmill set to "20 Minutes Easy" between sets. In fact, I shared the exercise time with Tananarive. I'd spend a minute on the treadmill while she is doing KB, then jump off and juggle while T hits the track.

Now, if you've never seen KB juggling, don't worry, I'm not using three huge weights and tossing them around like tennis balls. But you know what? I would bet you that warriors used to do just exactly that. What an insane test of coordination, muscular endurance and explosive power that would be. Yow.

But I do use a standard 1-pood (36 lbs.) and flip and catch, pass between legs, pull-catch-squat moves, part of the "H2H" system by Jeff Martone. And that is a hell of a workout, let me tell you. Using the "Fat Ripper" technique, I'm also training running as well. A damned good movement, in some ways the core of all athletic motion. And having a five year old who loves running, I think that it would be cool to stay ahead of him for as long as possible. He's fast, though. It won't be long.


I'm testing creating hyperlinks. If the following doesn't work, can anyone tell me how to do this?

href=”” >Route 101

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fear of dying on a treadmill

Will Smith on the Laws of Success

The most interesting quote: "the only thing different about me is that I'm not afraid of dying on a treadmill."

Remember Arnold Swarzenegger's laws of personal success?

1) Have clearer goals than anyone else

2) Believe in yourself more than anyone else.

3) Work harder than anyone else.


One way or another, I have heard the same words from so many different directions, whenever I run into people who have built companies, changed public opinion, conquered adversity, transformed their lives, built empires of art or science. Not "talent" or "luck" or even "intelligence." But laserlike, monomaniacal focus. And in my mind, the only thing it is safe to focus on that way, if you want to have a life in this world, is balance. Even focusing on God can lead to isolation and inability to function for family or society, lead to self-righteous prejudice and an acceptance of suffering in others. Seen too much of that.

Never met Smith, but know people who know him (somewhat) and he did walk past me at the Image Awards. Wish my aura reading had been up to snuff. My guess is that it would be as clear as I imagine Bruce Lee's was. Actually...more. Lee was off balance. At his level of physical energy, Lee should have been living in a monastery somewhere, instead of living the movie-star life, with all of the negatives that that implies.

"I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill." That is a level of clarity that most human beings can only marvel at. And anyone with that kind of clarity will produce results others consider magical.


Smith's clarity recalls the passage at the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna is guilty that he may be about to cause the death of his cousins and brothers and friends, by commensing a great battle. One interpretation is rather literal, that in life there are obligations, and we must address them regardless of the temporary pain: we all have our position in life, and must fulfill it.

That's interesting...the interp I prefer goes for an inner meaning, that there is an enormous Parts Party going on, and Arjuna has to be above the screaming and the blood--because it all symbolizes his own aspects, especially those that cling to life, and keep him from reaching his full development as a spiritual being.

I remember I used to run on the track at Pepperdine University. At around a mile and a half, my body would give me all kinds of "you're about to die" symptoms. Because my doctor had said I was perfectly healthy, I decided to ignore those feelings. In fact, my attitude was: "if I'd die running, I'd probably die later today anyway. If I die, let me die living my life on my terms."

And what do you know? At about 2.5 miles, after several minutes of suffering...the pain went away. And I got into a new groove, second wind. And as days went past, although the barrier was always there, it grew thinner and thinner, with less and less suffering...until one day it was just voices and phantom aches that never really manifested at all. That was great. I loved it. Never really went above running five miles three times a week, but that was all I needed, and it powered every other aspect of my life.

Not afraid to die on a treadmill. Not afraid to be laughed at. Not afraid to be first. Not afraid to exceed society''s expectations. Not afraid to speak an unpopular truth. Not afraid to have faith in things for which I have little or no logical proof. You gotta learn to trust your hunches. And what mine tell me is that most of the voices saying "stop!" are lying to us, when going forward represents growth and strength. But damn, those voices can be convincing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Music help needed

There is a piece of classical music playing under the commercial for "South Park." I need to identify the selection. Can anyone out there help me?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gita and Synechoche

More in the "Gita:

"Spiritual progress consists not in actually achieving anything, but in simply removing the distrotions that obscure the nature of reality."

This was a comment by one of Paramahansa Yogananda's students, remembering the Master's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. For what it is worth, this aligns beautifully with my own sense of it (which is very different from my thoughts, or research on the subject.) Basically, over the course of my life I've had enough moments of clarity to be able to define a direction. Those sacred texts that align with that direction, I pay attention to. For instance, the red text in a King James Bible (the actual words of Christ) pretty much line up. Some of his apostles...not so much.

But the question of clarity is an important one. This is central to the value of meditation, but also for a need to have nearby "targets" to focus upon. What can I look at TODAY, RIGHT NOW, that will tell me if I am heading in the right direction, or if I am still and quiet, that my internal world is not roiled by my outer goals and circumstances. I have found that if I concentrate on all three aspects of my life, defining them as health/fitness, relationship/spirit, and career/mind, that I have never gone wrong. That every time I have backslid or created havoc in my life, I have ignored one of these three. I can speak for no one else, but this path works perfectly for me: to study sacred texts, and words of wisdom that have sustained people over the centuries, and see which of them will keep me going right down the middle. And this is the course that I can coach others along. There are beyond a doubt other, better paths...but I am a householder, and this is the best Way I know of.


Watched Charlie Kaufmann (Writer: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind")'s directorial debut,

ᅠSYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK. Now, Synecdoche is a term that means a small symbol representing a larger whole, and the plot deals with a neurotic playwright (boy, could I see Woody Allen in the role!) who, over the course of decades, tries to create a play that represents every event in his entire life, and a set that represents the entirety of New York. Starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I think that Synecdoche is a flawed masterpiece, a work of almost staggering ambition, and a humbling experience. Kaufmann is just absurdly brilliant, in a manner suggestive of the best of Ellison or Vonnegut. He may have overreached with this piece, but I was just blown away.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I got an email from a friend that referenced Joseph Campbell's influence on George Lucas, and I wrote the following note in return. I thought you might find it interesting, even if it only recaps things I've said before...


You've touched on an area I know something about. Joseph Campbell's work did indeed inform George Lucas, but the basic work isn't based on the Hopi any more than it is the African griots, Eskimo shamans, Irish Bards and Hollywood screenwriters he studied for decades before writing his amazing thesis on the "Hero with a thousand faces." It details the underlying story behind all human mythology, the "Hero's Journey." It can be found all over the world, and elements of it can be seen in any story that has any staying power at all. Where did it come from? Well, in essence, it is the core story of human life itself. I've been using it for decades to teach writing to my students, and it's the perfect fiction structure.

Hon, you feel that you have an important message to get out to people. Fine. What I was trying to convey to you is that there are two basic ways to do this in the form of fiction:

1) Be a world-class expert, so famous that people will read your words even if they are dull.

2) Be a world-class storyteller, so skilled that you suck the reader in with your first line, and keep them reading even if they have no idea who you are, or where you are taking them.

The entertainment value then becomes the " carrier tone" that conveys your message. The "Hero's Journey" is a great way of understanding what storytelling is, and why it works. There's a whole world of things I know nothing about, darling, but on this subject, after publishing three million words of fiction and teaching thousands of students, I am world class, and I speak with confidence. I'm only talking to you about this stuff 'cause I love you.

So, then...what is the Hero's Journey? I'll lay it out in ten steps, relating it both to fiction (Star Wars IV, "A New Hope") and real life (trying to learn to ride a bicycle.) The beautiful thing about the HJ is that you can apply it to any problem you have in life. Me personally, I apply it to what I consider the core Intelligence Test in life: how can you

1) have a healthy, sexy body (look great naked!)

2) A terrific, passionate marriage/relationship and deep self-love

3) Make plenty of money doing something you love doing.

I figure that if you can do all three of these things, you have the foundation of a great life: everything else flows from these. "A" is Star Wars. "B" is a kid wanting to learn to ride a bike.

So here are the steps of the Hero's Journey.

1) Hero Confronted with a Challenge.

a) "Come with me, Luke! Learn the ways of the Force."

b) "I want to ride a bike!"

2) Hero Rejects the Challenge

a) "I promised Uncle Owen I'd stay for the harvest."

b) "I'm scared. I can't"

3) Hero Accepts the Challenge

a) Uncle Owen and Aunt Baru killed. "I want to come with you and become a Jedi like my father."

b) "I'll try. I want it more than I am afraid of it."

4) The Road of Trials

a) Journey to Mos Eisley, Alderan, the Death Star, etc.

b) Practice. Falling down, getting up, falling down, getting up...

5) Allies and Powers

a) Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Princess Leia, etc. In other words, all of the people who could teach or support Luke. Most specifically, the people who have ALREADY BEEN where Luke needs to go. These are allies. "Powers" are: using a light saber, piloting a starship, developing courage, etc.

b) Mommy, daddy, brothers, sisters. Anyone who can already ride a bike, and can offer INFORMED advice. Powers are: balance, confidence, concentration, etc.

6) Confront Evil--Defeat

a) The death of Obi-Wan, who was Luke's major role model.

b) Falling off the bike into the rose bush. In pursuing any goal, there are points of failure. ANY goal. Get over it.

7) Dark night of the Soul

a) During the assault on the Death Star--everyone killed, Luke alone. The computer can't make the shot.

b) Screaming and crying. "I can't do it! I'm not big enough! I don't wanna!"

8) Leap of Faith

a) "Trust your feelings, Luke"

b) "Trust Daddy. I've never lied to you. You can do this!"

9) Confront Evil--victory

a) Blows up Death Star.

b)Learns to ride!

10) Student becomes the teacher

a) Luke awarded medals and applauded by audience. Medals represent meritorious performance worthy of emulation.

b) teaching your kid sister to ride!


If you look at any movie, you'll see aspects of this pattern, because it is the course of human life itself. The only movies books or stories that have no relation to this pattern are totally experimental works that are seen by simply dozens of people.

If you look into you own life, at anything you've ever gotten good at, you'll see this pattern. If you can build it into your writing, you will instantly increase its readability vastly. If you look at any problem in your life, you can see how you can organize your resources or seek superior role models to improve your results.

THIS is the gift that Joseph Campbell gave us: he showed us the path of human life. This is genuine wisdom, the elders of every village in the world showing the children how to face their futures with power and courage. I know of no single piece of information that is more important.