A Day or Two in the Life

(The Story Grid deal ends at Midnight tonight!)

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Years ago I was in a slump.  The big “R” of Resistance had gotten the best of me and I just didn’t have the energy to dive into another editing or writing project.  The thing that got me out of it was attending Robert McKee’s STORY SEMINAR.

The four-day lecture was outstanding (McKee in action is a theatrical experience in and of itself) and I’ve since gone to a number of other daylong or more events from McKee, Seth Godin and others.

The thing that I find the most valuable beyond the fun of going back to my student days was the “oomph” in the room itself.  There was something invigorating about being in the same place with a whole slew of like-minded Story Nerds.

To know that there was a tribe of others who took this stuff as seriously as I did gave me the nudge to get from the couch back into the desk chair.  To know that the work I was doing was important, not just to me, but to the Story universe at large stays with me too.   I doubt I would have had the wherewithal to write The Story Grid without those experiences.

Steve and I have been approached a number of times over the years about leading a Seminar of our choosing.  Despite our mutual terror of being “on” in front of hardworking people who would have to shell out their hard earned cash to make it happen, we realize that there could be something interesting to come out of a Black Irish day or two day event.

But we haven’t figured out what the form of the event would be.

The one thing that we do know for sure is that we want to do it together.  Callie and Jeff suggested that instead of us coming up with some didactic top/down approach, we open it up to people who would actually consider being a part of it.  What would they want us to talk about?

So if you are interested in a Black Irish seminar of some sort check out this video and fill out the questionnaire.  We’ll cogitate on all of the responses and see if we can figure something out.

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  1. Mary Doyle on May 1, 2015 at 5:30 am

    This is the natural “next step” to what you guys do here and over on StoryGrid.com. As much as I loathe air travel anymore I’d come to L.A. in a heartbeat to hear you two and meet a group of other story nerds. I hope you get a lot of survey responses out of this – good luck!

  2. Joel D Canfield on May 1, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I’m thinking that y’all meet in the middle, say, somewhere north of Chicago (says the guy who lives 7 hours north of Chicago, coincidentally.)

    McKee’s book was like chugging espresso. I can only imagine 4 days of that intensity.

    • Rebecca Frost on May 1, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Minneapolis is the place for this event! Seriously, guys, consider it.

      • Joel D Canfield on May 2, 2015 at 6:12 am

        Hey, moving it 5 hours closer to me is fine. We could all eat the best fish and chips I’ve had stateside down at The Anchor.

        Do it at the incomparable Fitzgerald Theater. If it’s good enough for Garrison Keillor . . .

  3. Peter Schwartz on May 1, 2015 at 8:12 am


    Does the world really need more books?

    What the hell for? It’s just this endless endlessness of word after word.

    We haven’t even read or begun to understand all the books and words that’ve already been written.

    We’re like the kid who reaches for more food before he’s even touched the food on this plate.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if 75% of the new books have already been written some time in the past, perhaps in some other language, or been told around a campfire. But no one knows this because they’ve read all the books that’ve already been written! It’s all just one big repetitive stream of unconsciousness.

    Here’s a good rule of thumb:

    Once you’ve read and digested all the books that’ve already been written, THEN and ONLY then can you write a new book.

    Here’s a little story. My father’s father was a truck driver, a bookie, and a drunk. Somewhat unusual for a Jewish guy, but he was Romanian.

    Anyway, he never read a book until he discovered there were books with characters like the people he knew: pimps, whores, bookies, ne’er-do-wells and whatnot.

    So he started reading, but he had an unusual way of doing it. When he finished a page, he’d rip it out and throw it away. When he was finished with the book, the book was finished, too.

    There were two big advantages to reading this way: 1) the book got lighter and lighter as he progressed, which meant he could read longer. 2) He never lost his place in the book; he was always on page one. So he saved on bookmarks and his pages were never dog-eared.

    Of course, the books he read weren’t worth keeping in good shape or even keeping, which goes for about 75% of all books written because they’re just redos of books that were written before.

    • Peter Schwartz on May 1, 2015 at 8:15 am


      “…they haven’t read all the books that’ve already been written!”

      “…books that have been written before.”

    • Regina on May 1, 2015 at 10:19 am

      My answer: Yes! And the glass really is half FULL! 🙂

    • Joel D Canfield on May 2, 2015 at 6:24 am

      I kept reading the comment, assuming it was sarcasm, satire, something.

      No living person could read all the books published in a single year, let alone all time.

      Tell me there’s a punchline I missed here.

  4. Jay Cadmus on May 1, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Dear Messrs. Steve & Shawn:
    I read the last few comments.
    We are all a “sum of the experiences in our life.”
    As I haven’t read everything, I don’t know to whom that quote should be attributed.
    My apologies to the wise and soulful person who first said them.
    In the humblest of opinions, I cannot know everything because I am not everyone.
    This small soul learns from the best of all teaching to which he has been exposed. That is, it learns from the base of teaching which began with its mother who bore it; and, the biological parent/father who was partner to her pregnancy.
    I have many words within me that yearn to be said, written and printed.
    But, the debate hastens me from sharing.
    My words of truth about who I am cannot be accepted in this “new reality”; or, in the re-writing of history.
    I hope that there will be less timid writers who will “damn the torpedoes…(and go)…full-speed ahead.”
    There again, my apologies to the speaker.
    I trust in your gained knowledge and willingness to share it with writers who will listen.

  5. Linda Laurens on May 4, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    But Stevie,

    You said that attending workshops & seminars were part of the ugly arms of resistance, or did I not understand?

    I value your books and have learned a lot. I’ve been a lurker most of these posts and now I have to ask you to please please please don’t sell out.

    You four have integrity PLUS PLUS and authenticity PLUS PLUS PLUS. How will you go “the nest step” without losing both?

    • Linda Laurens on May 4, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Next step. NEXT not Nest

  6. Alex Cespedes on May 5, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Seminars CAN be a form of Resistance as SP has written, but if the right people attend I think seminars can also be uplifting for a writer who wants to be among like-minded persons fighting the same battle.

    You buy an album from your favorite musician, but don’t you also want to see them live when they come to town? Reading has benefits that no other form possesses, a live experience has its own benefits as well. You have an eager student here in NY!

  7. Adam Thomas on May 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    The only ask I have is that it have some theme around taking it to resistance. Its what you guys have done with your work, helped the world sit down in the chairs and report to work in the morning.

    I will make it a point to be there whenever this happens!

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