The Artist’s Journey, #4
We’re a week into the launch of the new site and The War of Art Mini-Course. The course is on the house, so check it out and let us know what you think.
And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming . . .
Herewith, the ongoing serialization of The Artist’s Journey (if you missed any previous installments, scroll down through the previous posts immediately below):
7. A GIFT FOR THE PEOPLE
In the mythology of the hero’s journey, the hero at the conclusion of her ordeal returns home safely from her wanderings. But she does not arrive empty-handed. She returns with an “elixir,” a “gift for the people.”
This gift is the product of the hero’s solitary suffering. It may be wisdom or queenly command. It may come with fire or the sword, driving out the evil forces that have infested the kingdom. Or it may come gently, as poetry or music that heals and restores harmony to the land.
You, the seeker, have at last returned home.
You are an artist now, as you have always wished to be.
What gift do you bring for the people?
You will learn that, now, on your artist’s journey.
8. WHAT IS THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY?
The thesis of this book is that the artist’s journey, which follows the hero’s journey chronologically, comprises the true work, the actual production, of the artist’s life.
From that moment, the hero is no longer a free-range individual.
She has become an artist.
As Rosanne Cash declared in her memoir, Composed:
I had awakened from the morphine sleep of success into the life of an artist.
Everything in her life that is not-artist now falls away.
On the surface her new life may look ordinary, even boring. No more catastrophic romances. No more self-destructive binges. No more squandering or disrespecting her gift, her voice, her talent.
She is on a mission now.
Her life has acquired a purpose.
What is the artist’s life about now?
It’s about following the Muse.
It’s about finding her true voice.
It’s about becoming who she really is.
On her artist’s journey, she will produce the works she was born to bring into being.
She will be on that journey for the rest of her life.
What, then, are the characteristics of the Artist’s Journey?
B O O K T W O
C H A R A C T E R I S T I C S O F
T H E A R T I S T’ S J O U R N E Y
9. THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY IS INTERNAL
I used to write at a desk that faced a wall. My friends would ask, “Why don’t you turn the desk around so you have a view outside?”
I don’t care about the view outside.
My focus is interior.
The book or movie I’m writing is playing inside my head.
Dalton Trumbo wrote in the bathtub.
Marcel Proust never got out of bed.
Why should they?
The journey they were on was inside themselves.
10. THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY IS PERSONAL
The novels of Philip Roth are completely different from those of Jonathan Franzen.
Neither author, gifted as he may be, can do what the other does.
In fact, neither can write anything except what his own gift authorizes, that which is unique to him alone.
11. THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY IS UNIVERSAL
And yet millions of people can read Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen and be touched and moved and illuminated.
What is personal to the artist is universal to the rest of us.
12. THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY IS SOLITARY
Yes, artists collaborate. And yeah, there is such a thing as “the writers’ room.”
But the work of the artist takes place not on the page or in conversation or debate, but inside her head.
You, the artist, are alone in that space.
There is no one in there but you.