Month: June 2011

To Propose or Not to Propose

By Steven Pressfield | 3 Comments

Posted from the road, Jacksonville NC: I’m reading Shawn’s Friday posts about book proposals in our “What It Takes” series. I love ‘em. They’re educational for me too. Until I read Shawn’s first post, I didn’t know what a book proposal was. Until he showed me one a couple of months ago, I had never seen one. Reading this, you may think, “How can that be? How can Pressfield have a 15-year book career and not know what a book proposal looks like?” The answer is simple: You don’t need a book proposal for fiction. That’s good news and bad…

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Death in the Afternoon

By Steven Pressfield | 9 Comments

The following doesn’t really fit under the heading of War Stories, but it’s so great I’m compelled to make it today’s post anyway. I’m copying this piece now from a yellowing, typewriter-pecked page I’ve kept with me for years. If technically it isn’t about war, it’s certainly from a man who wrote masterfully about that subject and who struggled, suffered and bled to fight the internal “war of art.” From Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon: When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there…

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Where to Start

By Shawn Coyne | 3 Comments

So, you have an incredible idea.  You are a devotee of a particular slice of history, be it in music, politics, the Civil War, psychology, business, sports, or any other wedge of potentially popular nonfiction. You want to write a book about it, but you have no idea of how to write the proposal that will: catch the eye of an agent and secure representation, excite a big shot editor at a traditional publisher and gain you a reasonable advance to write it, rally the marketing and publicity departments of that publisher to support the project, and successfully translate into…

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On Research, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments

I got an e-mail a few weeks ago from Jeff Wills, who is writing an historical novel and was curious about how I did research. I promised I would answer in this space as soon as the launch of The Profession was over. So … here goes: JW: My question is about your method of research and writing. I know your position is do “as little research as possible” and jump in, but I guess I’m interested in some of the details of how YOU jump in. SP: First, Jeff, though I do advocate plunging in on the work even…

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Hector and Andromache

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

Here is one of the most poignant and tragic scenes (at least in its outcome, foretold but unstated here) in all of epic poetry. From Homer’s Iliad, in the Richmond Lattimore translation from the University of Chicago Press, this is the moment on the battlements of Troy, when the Trojans’ great hero Hector has left the fighting momentarily; his wife Andromache comes to speak with him, accompanied by a nurse and their infant son, Astyanax. First Andromache, foreseeing Hector’s death, pleads with him to withdraw from the fighting. “Dearest, your own great strength will be your death, and you have…

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Publication Day

By Steven Pressfield | 20 Comments

I have a recurring dream. In the dream I’m invited to climb into the back seat of a limo that’s about to drive off to someplace fabulous (sometimes the dream is about a fancy home or a fantastic restaurant). The dream always ends badly. It’s trying to tell me something. Publication day—which was yesterday for The Profession—is like getting into the back seat of that dream limo. Publication day gets our hopes up. We’re human. We’re prey to the folly of anticipating rave reviews; we’re itching to check sales on Amazon. I’ve been up and down with these expectations through…

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Join Us For A Night of Bassoon

By Callie Oettinger | 4 Comments

Steve Martin opened his performance with Steep Canyon Rangers by thanking the audience for being there—saying that he knew asking us to join him for a night of bluegrass was like Jerry Seinfeld asking his fans to join him for a night of bassoon. It wasn’t what any of us expected—or necessarily wanted—from him, and he hoped we liked it. We did. While my ears, eyes, and soul were drinking in the music, all I could think about was “the crossover.” In the late 90s, country musician Garth Brooks released an album under the name of “Chris Gaines.” He created…

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Steven Press­field is a writer of two worlds

By Jeff Sexton | 15 Comments

In one world, he’s the cel­e­brated author of The War of Art—a book that has quickly become the field man­ual for any­one engaged in cre­ative or artis­tic work of any kind, espe­cially entre­pre­neurs and writ­ers. In the other world he’s the king of all mil­i­tary epics and his­tor­i­cal sagas — a think­ing man’s Tom Clancy whose nov­els about The Bat­tle of Ther­mopy­lae, Alexan­der the Great, and The Pelo­pon­ness­ian War are favorites among grunts, gen­er­als, and lit­er­ary crit­ics alike. Unfor­tu­nately, there’s not nearly enough cross pol­li­na­tion between the two worlds. Few of Steven’s fic­tion fans have read his non-fiction, and even…

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Crossing Over

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

First things first: our Kindle and Nook winners from last week’s un-Contest. Congrats to Lou Sancio and Rachel Hope, who will get their new eReaders ASAP—and to the six other lucky devils listed below, who will each get a signed first edition of The Profession. Winners, I’ll e-mail you all personally and we can confer on personalized inscriptions, addresses etc. Here’s how I picked the winners. We had a big long list on Excel; I scrolled down with my eyes closed, then stopped when I felt the vibes and opened my eyes. Whatever name was beneath the cursor … you…

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“We Are Going to War”

By Steven Pressfield | 2 Comments

The following is from “Israel Journal: June, 1967,” a brilliant first-person account of the Sinai battles of the Six Day War by Yael Dayan, the daughter to Moshe Dayan and an accomplished journalist and novelist in her own right (as well as, later in her career, a member of the Israeli Knesset and Deputy Mayor of Tel-Aviv.) Ms. Dayan was twenty-eight at the time of this writing and a lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces. She accompanied division commander Ariel Sharon (later PM of Israel) as he led his armored forces against the Egyptian army in Sinai. This passage begins…

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