Month: August 2011

Saying Yes and Saying No

By Steven Pressfield | 21 Comments

A friend of mine said something to me a couple of years ago that, the more I think about it, the more profound it becomes. Let’s call her Jane. She’s a happily married woman with a couple of almost-grown kids and an all-around fine and healthy life; she was talking about the evening before she married her husband. “The night before I married Mark was the worst night of my life. I tossed and turned all night, crying. I was literally sobbing. Because I realized that now I was never going to marry Steve McQueen or Paul Newman. It sounds…

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Crackpot, Problem Child, Great Fighting Leader

By Callie Oettinger | 20 Comments

One of these things is not like the others: Crackpot. Problem Child. Great Fighting Leader. Or is it? What does a leader look like? Eisenhower called Patton a “crackpot” and a “problem child” and a “great fighting leader in pursuit and exploitation.” (See letter below from General Eisenhower to General Marshall.) “Old Blood and Guts” Patton was like many of history’s great warriors. He came with flaws—and those working with him had to decide if they could accept him, warts and all. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s response after being asked about Patton during a press conference: I think probably that…

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Moving On

By Shawn Coyne | 6 Comments

I was waiting for a bus. I had two bags. One was a carry-on with wallet, phone, iPod, keys, MacBook, manuscripts, Kindle, medication, and eyeglasses that I would hold on to dear possession unless my life was literally in the balance. The other contained my clothes and Dopp kit for a three day fun filled excursion to coordinate a move of all my, my wife, and three under aged ten children’s possessions from one apartment on the west side of Manhattan to another on the east side. It may as well have been a move from Pakistan to Somalia. As…

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On Becoming More of a Pr#@k

By Steven Pressfield | 38 Comments

What we’re really talking about is learning how to say no. (Thanks to Fabian Pallares who suggested this topic in a Comment two weeks ago after our post, An Ask Too Far.) When Gates of Fire was first optioned by Universal Studios in 1998, the director Michael Mann was attached. I sent him hand-written congratulations and a signed first edition. I never heard a peep. I thought, “What a prick!” The same thing happened with Robert Redford on The Legend of Bagger Vance. Again I thought, “What a prick!” But I gotta tell you, the more I’ve thought about it…

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“The God-damned Infantry” by Ernie Pyle

By Steven Pressfield | 11 Comments

Along with Bill Mauldin, Ernie Pyle was probably the most famous American war correspondent of World War II. His dispatches from the front were carried by over 300 newspapers. (Thanks to Tina McCann for sending in this piece.) Pyle loved the foot soldiers, the dogfaces, the grunts; he ate with them, tramped beside them under fire and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for writing about them. One column of his urged that combat infantrymen be given extra “fight pay,” just as airmen got “flight pay.” Congress responded by authorizing ten dollars a month, a princely sum in those days.…

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Fear, Golightly, Python

By Callie Oettinger | 5 Comments

Two weeks ago, Jeremy Brown asked if going “after the ideas that scare [Steve], because that’s where the remarkable is hiding” carries over to my work. Have been thinking about it since then. I’m not out in the jungle hunting Scary.

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Write For A Star

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

[The blog is on vacation this week. Here’s an encore of one of our most popular posts.] “Write for a star” is one of the primal axioms of screenwriting, but it has applications across many other fields as well. What does it mean to write for a star? Writing for a star means create a role that a star wants to play. Your story may be dynamite, your structure may be sound, your theme profound and involving. But the first question a producer is going to ask is, “Who can I cast in this thing?” Moviemakers want scripts that attract…

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Flashman Tells It Like It Is

By Michael Edwardson | 5 Comments

George MacDonald Fraser, author of the famous Flashman novels, joined the Border Regiment straight out of school, and first saw active service in 1944, at the age of 19, in the ‘forgotten front’ of the Burma campaign. In his memoir, Quartered Safe out Here, Fraser remembers his experiences with his infantry section, employing all the considerable skills of his craft to roll back half a century and bring that terrible jungle campaign to life. In this passage from the very start of the book, Fraser makes a point about the dehumanized way that military campaigns are often presented in histories…

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Recycling: That Idea in the Blind Spot

By Callie Oettinger | 4 Comments

Last week I started thinking about recycling as a strategy. Here’s what usually happens when something slaps me in the face: There’s something I’ve been doing, or something someone I know has been doing, but I never consider it. I see it, I know it’s going on, but I don’t put a name on it. I don’t acknowledge it.

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An Ask Too Far

By Steven Pressfield | 34 Comments

In the past year or so I’ve become aware of the verb “ask” used as a noun. I simultaneously like it and am appalled by it. It’s honest. Probably way too honest. An “ask” is a request for an action or a favor. I was reporting the contents of a long e-mail to a friend; she interrupted: “What’s the ask?” Meaning, “What does the e-mail writer want?” “Ask” originated, I suspect, in the publicity biz. The difference between advertising and publicity is you pay for advertising but you try to get publicity for free. Hence “ask.” Schmooze schmooze schmooze ask.…

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