Month: March 2013

Play Like a 15 Seed

By Callie Oettinger | 4 Comments

Anything can happen during March Madness, and we root for the underdog, but how many go so far as to put the underdogs within their final brackets? How many had 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast University going this far? Doesn’t make sense. There’s never been a 15 seed to make the Sweet Sixteen . . . Until now. . . * * * Imagine this: You have a new book and you’re sitting around, talking about marketing and PR with your publisher. Everyone’s cheering. They’re in your corner. Rah. Rah. Rah. But when you leave, the next author comes in…

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Start With the Villain

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

I’m a huge fan of Villain Speeches. There’s nothing better in a movie or a book than the moment when the stage is cleared and Satan gets to say his piece. The villain in Gunga Din, played by the great Italian actor Eduardo Ciannelli, is called simply “the Guru.” He’s like Gandhi, if Gandhi had traded non-violence for mega-violence. This speech is kicked off by Cary Grant, as British sergeant Archibald Cutter, confronting the Guru in outrage over his extremely clever plan to lure Cutter’s regiment into a trap and massacre it to the last man. CARY GRANT You’re mad! THE…

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The Best Bad Choice

By Shawn Coyne | 11 Comments

We face two kinds of decisions in our lives.  These decisions define who we are as human beings. Accomplished novelists/storytellers have a deep understanding of how to move their fictional characters to these two types of crossroads. It’s the same skill narrative nonfiction writers must have in their arsenal. Instead of creating events, the nonfiction storyteller must discern when real human beings have faced these choices, what decisions they made and how those decisions changed their lives permanently. We do not live in an evil/good, joy/misery, satiated/starving kind of world. Never have. Never will.  Because we don’t—we always fall on…

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A Natural Life

By Steven Pressfield | 22 Comments

Being a writer is not a natural life. Of course it’s not natural working in a coal mine or a cubicle either. What is a “natural life” anyway? Is it living in alignment with evolution? Is it the nomadic life, the hunter’s life, the farmer’s life? If we live in the city, have we cut ourselves off from the organic voyages, migrations, and rhythms of the human soul? The life of the artist is artificial. Art by definition is artificial. What exactly is the artist’s life? What shape does it take, day-to-day? What you and I do as artists and…

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How to Respond?

By Callie Oettinger | 9 Comments

The past few days, I’ve followed the storm swirling around an article journalist David Wood wrote for The Huffington Post. As I read the responses in the comments section of the post, as well as full blog posts replying to David’s article—and then the many more comments to those posts—I was reminded of Steven Pressfield’s recent articles  “The Principals and the Profiles” and “Principals and Profiles, Part II” and Jonathan Field’s article “Belief Without Compassion.” Quite a bit has been written about David’s article. Instead, it’s the responses I want to hit. Snark First, Verify Later. It’s easier to be…

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Giving Notes

By Steven Pressfield | 17 Comments

Giving notes is the phrase used in the movie business to mean reviewing or critiquing a screenplay or treatment or even a short pitch. Getting notes is when you’re the one on the receiving end. Both positions are really hard. I’ve lost friends. People have stopped talking to me. For a while I simply refused to give notes. I would not read anything. It was too dangerous. Here are the rules I follow now: 1. I NEVER read anything from someone I don’t know. Beyond the agony flowing in both directions there’s the problem of plagiarism. Suppose I’m working on…

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The Difference Between Self-Discipline and Self-Flagellation

By Shawn Coyne | 25 Comments

I have a difficult time determining whether or not my internal insistence that I bang out xxx number of words in a  day—no matter what!—falls within the realm of constructive self-discipline or destructive self-flagellation. There’s no easy answer. The words don’t magically type themselves. I asked Steve about this when I was in LA a couple weeks ago. He reminded me of his friend who trains thoroughbred horses. He wrote about him in TURNING PRO. What the trainer told Steve is that he never grinds the horses, making them finish a lap when they stop running. While he certainly has…

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Principals and Profiles, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | 18 Comments

This is an edgy subject and maybe I should stay away from it, but I feel like I want to squeeze it a little more, so here goes. To review quickly, we were saying a couple of weeks ago that sometimes a public figure or personality (the “principal”) will be stalked or cyber-stalked or just plain bugged by a fan/frenemy/hater (the “profile.”) And that each of us probably has both tendencies-in-potential in our psyches. The reason I’m exploring this is to see if we can learn something that will help us. A couple of observations: You don’t have to be…

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Everything That Rises Must Converge

By Callie Oettinger | 9 Comments

The rain drops picked up speed as I headed west along the highway. They hit the windshield, hesitated, and then sought each other out, going from individuals to a series of streams flowing upward— until the wipers arrested their development, cleared the deck, and new drops hit and started up again. A drop, a hesitant movement—Which way up?—and then convergence. And Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge” title landed in my head. Everything that rises . . . Earlier in the week, Steve shared a project on which he was working, a few days later he and I received…

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