Month: February 2013

Jackson Browne’s Piano coming through the Floor

By Steven Pressfield | 28 Comments

Did you see that docu on TV the other night about the history of the Eagles? I was watching it (enjoying it tremendously) when one moment leapt out at me. I’m paraphrasing from memory now, so forgive me if I get some of this wrong: Glenn Frey was telling the story. He was talking about the early 70s in L.A., before the Eagles were even a band, or maybe just after they had gotten started. He and Don Henley were playing gigs (they had backed up Linda Ronstadt for a while) but they were not writing their own material. They…

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The Ron Popeil Promise

By Shawn Coyne | 7 Comments

I went to Los Angeles for a couple of days.  Steve and I try to meet every three months or so face to face and it was my turn to schlep the 3000 miles. While we have a standing Monday afternoon phone conference, we’ve found that we get exponentially more done when we can read each other’s faces, interrupt one another’s thoughts and monologues. And it’s just a lot of nerdy fun. We tell ourselves that we’re getting together to go over “business” stuff.  And we do. We balance our little bank account and plan when to publish stuff we…

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The Principal and the Profile

By Steven Pressfield | 22 Comments

My friend Jane worked for years for a legendary personality of the 20th century. I’m respecting her wishes by not using the gentleman’s name. Let’s call him Michael. Michael was a target for the tabloids and the paparazzi. He was besieged relentlessly by fans and admirers, cranks, crazies, and outright stalkers. He lived on an estate. The place became a fortress. It got so bad that Michael had to employ bodyguards and a professional “threat assessor.” The threat assessor wound up teaching everyone on Michael’s staff how to respond to a certain type of persistent assailant. The dynamic was so…

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Putting “The Pivot” Into Play

By Callie Oettinger | 11 Comments

I spent a few hours this week going over interview strategies with a friend. My favorite play is “the pivot.” It goes into play when the interviewer asks his or her guest a question that the guest isn’t interested in answering. That’s an interesting question, but there’s another question that I’ve been thinking about . . . Why not answer it? Could be a few different things. The guest might have something to hide. Though it didn’t come in the form of an interview, interviewers asked Lance Armstrong the “What are you on?” question for years. His pivot came via…

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The Understory

By Steven Pressfield | 19 Comments

I was laid up in bed with the flu this week and wound up watching the first two Bourne movies, starring Matt Damon, back-to-back. The experience got me thinking about the Understory. When I start a new book, I open a file and title it UNDERSTORY. The understory is the architecture that undergirds and supports the surface story. In the first Bourne movie, The Bourne Identity, the surface story starts like this: Jason Bourne is floating unconscious at sea, with two bullets in his back. A fishing boat rescues him. When he comes to, JB has no memory of who…

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Most Things Don’t Work Out

By Shawn Coyne | 15 Comments

Through dint of brutally waged, all or nothing, creative battles, professional artists learn something amateurs never do. They discover that the visions inside their minds that enthrall them at the outset of a new endeavor rarely come to pass in the way they think they will. They learn that recognized success is not all strawberry sundaes and sunshine. It can morph into something altogether different when realized. When a work requires that a writer cold turkey out of the PhD program at the University of Heineken, a National Book Award can prove disturbingly unsatisfying. I quit drinking and bled out…

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Opportunities are Bullshit, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | 33 Comments

I’ve been feeling a little bad about the first Opportunities Are Bullshit post a few weeks ago. Particularly after Callie’s wonderful “Nella from France” follow-on. My post was a bit of a rant, I confess. Ventilation of a pet peeve. I probably overstated the case. So lemme try again. We all want our stuff to be seen. If we’re singers or actors or website designers, we want our work to find its hour in the sun. So we’re vulnerable to “opportunities.” What is an “opportunity?” It’s what a producing entity–a website, a seminar, a movie or music producer, a publisher,…

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A New Model for an Old Classic

By Callie Oettinger | 7 Comments

“As the nation’s largest physical bookseller, Barnes & Noble supports publishers who support our bookstores.” —B&N spokesman, as reported this week in Publishers Weekly What does that mean? We support publishers who support us? Remember the scene in the movie You’ve Got Mail, when Indie bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) sells books at full price to Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), whose newest mega-chain Fox Books store is opening around the corner? Fox is surprised by the cost of the few children’s books he buys from Kelly, for his young relatives. The books in his store are sold at a…

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