Month: September 2012

One Shot

By Shawn Coyne | 5 Comments

ONE SHOT The other day someone asked me what I thought a first novelist needs to know about the business. You have one opportunity at each of the publishing houses. There are no second chances.  Your agent (and yes you need an agent to get your book in front of an editor) can’t send the book to another editor at a house if one has already passed. Publishers are small operations these days and everyone inside them knows what everyone else is being submitted. An agent who sends the same book to two editors at the same house will be…

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Thinking in Blocks of Time

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments

I’m just home from two weeks’ vacation—and gearing up to get back to work. The first thing I’ll do is stop myself from thinking in terms of immediate gratification. I will make myself think, instead, in blocks of time. I will not put pressure on the first day, or even the first week. Resistance would love me to do that. Resistance knows that if I try to do too much too soon, I’ll fail. Resistance would love to see that happen. So I will remind myself that the enemy is not time. The enemy is Resistance. The wide receiver returning…

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Praise for the Vuvuzela-Loving Steel Magnolia

By Callie Oettinger | 8 Comments

I don’t want to get up. This thought hits me at about 4:30 AM every morning. It comes in the voice of the animated devil sitting on my shoulder, a la the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. The little angel on the other shoulder always responds by climbing into my head and yelling, get up, lazy—almost as annoying as a soccer stadium filled with four-year olds going to town with vuvuzelas. For the most part, the devil doesn’t say much. I rarely hear his voice. He just sits around grinning. The angel is the vocal one because she’s the key…

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Personal Anguish

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

[The blog is on vacation this week. Here’s a favorite post from 2009. Back soon!] What happens to us as artists when our personal lives crash and burn? When we’ve lost our spouses or our homes or our minds; when we’ve been betrayed or, worse, betrayed someone else; when it’s three in the morning and sunrise feels like it’s never going to come? Here’s my experience: some of my best work has been done when my personal life was in chaos. This seems to make no sense. How can we do good work when it’s all we can do to…

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Black Dog Fall

By Shawn Coyne | 4 Comments

I just read Steve’s post, THE BIG PAYOFF, and if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to let the continued saga of how Honore de Balzac’s influenced my life rest. My gut is that the continuation of my hero’s journey story from last week would have devolved into something of an isolationist rant about the pitfalls of living your life according to the values of your chosen profession’s café society. I stumbled into book publishing and soon discovered that like any other demi-monde, it has influential insiders that promulgate a dubious juju—one that affixes “heat” to a book and/or a person…

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The Big Payoff

By Steven Pressfield | 15 Comments

We had a birth in the family recently—my nephew Justin and his wife Lissa had a healthy baby boy, whom they named Bryce. It got me to thinking about the concept of the Big Payoff. The Big Payoff is central to the American dream. In Westerns, it’s claiming that ten-thousand-acre spread where Ma and Pa can raise the young-uns. In gangster flicks, it’s the last big job that the criminal pulls, when he takes down the U.S. Mint. For the Vegas gambler, the big payoff is the jackpot. For you and me, it might be the dream job, the fantasy…

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Cafe Society, Part One

By Shawn Coyne | 11 Comments

Decades ago, I was required to do two things I didn’t want to do…read and write. While I didn’t really love either of C. P. Snow’s two cultures, science came much easier to me than the humanities. I liked science because there was usually a definitive right and wrong answer. Plus there is a clear scientific method.  You do this, this and this and you’re either right or wrong. Then you re-jigger and repeat the process depending upon your earlier results. If you work hard enough, you’ll find truth. And truth is good, even if it’s not what you want…

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Admiral Nelson’s Advice to Artists

By Steven Pressfield | 17 Comments

I heard this from Gen. James Mattis a couple of years ago when he was speaking at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. It has proved invaluable to me as a writer. Gen. Mattis was talking to a roomful of young officers. The subject was command and control in combat. If we’re the senior officer, how can we, in the heat and confusion of action, control the men and units beneath us? And if we’re the junior officer, how can we get help and advice from our seniors above? Mattis cited Admiral Horatio Nelson, England’s greatest naval hero. On the…

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