steven x 3
I have a serious literary crush on Steven Pressfield. I blame The War of Art. Introduced to it innocently enough by a friend, it has become- without a doubt- the most recommended book in my recent history. Suddenly everyone was talking about it and recommending it as THE breakthrough for creatives. Sometimes I get bratty and irreverent when everyone starts mentioning that I “have to” read something or watch something. I start to want to avoid it just to be stubborn. And maybe there’s a bit of “well it can’t be that cool if it’s everywhere.” But Steven is that cool. And you know that if I am first-naming him, I am a fan because I’m pretending as though we’re friends.
I mean, doesn’t he look like he’s going to give you some fiercely great advice?
He’s prolific, in a really honest way. He’s simply right. He work practically shoves you into upping your game and being really honest with yourself in regards to your art in the world. And especially in relation to that big meanie- Resistance.
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
Then there was Do The Work. Again, super rockstar and completely powerful. You definitely can’t play at 50% because Steven will call you out on it. Now he doesn’t actually call you out by name or show up at your place (although that would be cool), but it feels like you’ll disappoint him if you don’t step up. I swear that I can hear him shaking his head and saying “come on, Louise” when I procrastinate.
Last week he came out with Turning Pro. He touched on this concept previously and it might be my favorite. Now there’s an entire book diving in deeper. He tells the story of his demon-filled journey into really committing to being a writer, to really going pro, and it is captivating and heart-aching.
And yes, for those who might pull back at the hint of something more woo-woo, there is definitely some woo in his literary universe. But there are also some seriously profound revelations that can help artists and shorthand our journeys. Maybe that’s my favorite thing about Steven Pressfield- his work seems to be put out into the world to teach and help. It often feels like he himself is surprised by the discoveries and tickled by the fact that they have made his life and work easier. There’s joy through it all. I hope he isn’t angry if I include the bit at the end of the book. It is the “who is all this for?” section.
In the end, the enterprise and the sacrifice are all about the audience.
They’re about the readers, the moviegoers, the site visitors, the listeners, the concertgoers, the gamers, the gallerygoers- a group which, by the way, includes you and me.
We’re the audience.
In the hero’s journey, the wanderer returns home after years of exile, struggle, and suffering. He brings a gift for the people. That gift arises from what the hero has seen, what he has endured, what he has learned. But the gift is not that raw material alone. It is the ore refined into gold by the hero/wanderer/artist’s skilled and loving hands.
You are that artist.
I will gladly shell out $24.95 or $9.99 or 99 cents on iTunes to read or see or listen to the 24-karat treasure that you have refined from your pain and your vision and your imagination. I need it. We all do. We’re struggling here in the trenches. That beauty, that wisdom, those thrills and chills, even that mindless escape on a rainy October afternoon- I want it.
Put me down for it.
The hero wanders. The hero suffers. The hero returns.
You are that hero.
See? Aren’t you fired up to go create something?! I know, he’s amazing. On that note, I’m off to start work on a new writing idea. It scares me and I have NO idea how it will become what I want it to be… but maybe that’s the point. I am not supposed to know right now. I am only supposed to do my art, get to work, and be a pro. Bring it Pressfield.