Risk Taking and the Monomyth in Urban Fantasy

Dear Dark Dreamers,

Day late and a dollar short. I know. I missed yesterday’s post for the very best reasons, hopefully. It is not something I can go into yet, but I can promise you one thing about it, I have taken a chance, put myself out there to the best of my skills, and I hope the reap the rewards. However, if I don’t, that does not mean the end of chances and risks and yes, even heartache. Each semester, this has led me to teaching my students one of the most important lessons in life.

Successful people do not let life happen to them. They set out, work, strive and grow. AND FAIL. Yep, successful people fail, and fail often. If there is one thing that life taught me it’s that everyone needs to make friends with failure. The martial arts Master has to throw 999 crappy kicks to get that muscle memory to do it right. An inventor, like the late Steve Jobs and his army of engineers, had a multitude of failed prototypes before any of the iPhones became the successes they are. Even famous artists have many errors before their works become masterpieces. And I promise we hardworking authors have many drafts of words before it becomes a book, or even a blog post. It is an old adage but a true one, “The difference between a beginner and a master, is that the master has failed more times than the beginner has ever attempted.”

What makes us successful isn’t being perfect and never failing, it is in what we do when we inevitably trip and falter.

And isn’t this true for our characters as well? We want them to struggle. For things to be hard. For them to stare into the void of the impossible and keep going until they succeed. Even the famous monomyth is based upon the several trial failure/success structure. A character needs to strive and do everything they can to fix the problem and fail several times. The act of getting over the failure and becoming the master/mistress of two worlds through those lessons makes a hero/heroine as much if not more than just winning in the end.


A little bit of rain, they said. We’ll be back by Monday, they said.

One of the biggest falters in my life was starting over after Hurricane Katrina. Could no longer live in our fist house (which we’d only had for 3 weeks). Had to figure out where we were going to live and make a living all over again from scratch. Moved 6 times in 5 months. Had to fight both FEMA and the insurance company from a distance during all of that. Couldn’t even see what had happened to our house for almost a month. Then lived for a month, alone, with only my cat and an air mattress (and was in a different state from my new husband on our 1st anniversary as we tried to figure out what to do.) But I learned so much more about myself and what I was capable of after all that.

So, this week’s question: What is one time in your life where you faltered, but came back stronger?


About Courtney Sloan

A New Orleans native, Courtney Sloan relocated to the hills of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina. There she lives with her husband and fellow author, J.P. Sloan, their son and their crazy German Shepherd pup. Adding to her writing life, Courtney is also a professor at the local college and enjoys learning a world of new ideas from her students as she teaches them about writing and communicating. Courtney’s New Orleans upbringing has left her with a love for the macabre and a flare for the next to normal. She writes speculative fiction with a variety of horror and sass mixed in for flavor. She loves taking the world of politics that haunts us now, and adding the supernatural to create a gumbo of thrills to keep you up at night. A self-proclaimed lover of way too many fandoms, Courtney also loves crafting. From blankets to jams to stories, it’s always better homemade. View all posts by Courtney Sloan

4 responses to “Risk Taking and the Monomyth in Urban Fantasy

  • Lisa DiGregory

    One falter in my life that made me stronger afterwards was when my best friend stopped speaking to me and never told me why. She was my best friend and we did everything together. She made me feel confident and happy. After texting her and asking her if she wanted to see Krampus with me, she never responded. She ignored me when I texted her. She barely talked to me when I saw her at church. She was doing all of this to me, and I had no idea what I did to cause this. I spent constant nights trying to figure out what I could have done. That question of what I did was always popping into my head. I was heart broken. I lost my best friend. After this incident, I had no faith that true friendship actually existed, but because this happened I discovered a new friendship that would last forever with my sister. She helped me realize that I did nothing to my friend instead it was my friend’s problem. We started to hang out more, and tell each other everything. She has become my best friend, and our relationship will last forever.

    • Courtney Sloan

      That’s a hard lesson. Friends can be family we choose, but can hurt us just as easily. I am so glad your sister was there and that you were able to enjoy a new level of friendship and love.

  • laurenwolff96

    “Even famous artists have many errors before their works become masterpieces.” Although I am not famous, this is something i can relate to. There have been many of my art pieces that were not a success. It took me time and practice to perfect certain techniques. I learned that not everyone is going to love what I create. There have been times in high school when my teachers would be very harsh about the failures in my artwork. However, this did benefit me, because it made me stronger. I also learned from my mistakes, which led me to create better pieces.

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