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.
Yes, the artist’s journey is a solitary path, until our art is subject to scrutiny. The editor, the critic, the public. Navigating my desk facing the wall is a familiar place now. Navigating those people is new to me. Your words are a literal lifeline for me, Steven, especially what you say about rewriting. Thank you!
Living an internal life and being content inside the richness of that solitude is something the rest of the world doesn’t understand. Thanks for giving us a safe landing place every week – Mia is right – this is a lifeline.
You really understand, Steve. I’m so grateful you’re doing this for us–for me. Thank you.
“what his own gift authorizes, that which is unique to him alone.”
The gems are already piling up. I’m finally ready to hear #10. This can’t be the first time you’ve written it, but it’s the first time I’ve read it.
Of course one can write in a bathtub or sitting on a porch or even with earphones on at Starbucks . Love this and I will stop feeling so guilty that my desk is turned to the wall.
Whoa, my desk does face the wall and a bay window is across the room to my right. Every once in a while I’ve thought of turning the desk to face the window but always internally resist then dismiss the urge. I could not put words to this dynamic before. The journey is internal. Thank you for so much clarity in the focus and affirmation of the journey.
I sit to face the empty page,
And summon within, some wise old sage,
In an empty land beyond the foam,
Where heroes, villains and dragons roam.
To a snow-white land, where goblins be,
Deep within the soul of me.
Coming off a coverage that felt painful, this new look, the beautiful reminder of why I write is like a breath of air after a spring rain.
After listening to the mini-course episode today, I was reminded that the one-pager of the hero’s journey is due so I can officially start the artist’s journey. Since I am new to this journey, I am reading your blog and books every morning and evening until I can dance with the Resistance on my own. Grateful for all you offer to us – and to Seth for sending me ‘the War of Art’ book just when I needed it! Thank you, Steve.
I thoroughly enjoyed the mini-series…thanks so much! “The War of Art” and “Turning Pro” have been my bibles for the past five years or so. I’ve read and reread them many times, but only recently have I finally pulled myself together and actually gotten down to work (music). I’m 76 years old and probably have been the worst procrastinator on the face of the planet, as well as victim to many of the traps of Resistance mentioned in the books. But something finally broke through and I figure it’s better late than never.
My artist’s journey is still beginning.
Thanks for the roadmap.
Thank you Steven. I have just made the transition to my role as Artist. Or should I say, I finally said F**k it, I’m done, to the rest and just allowed myself to express my true self. A most peaceful and liberating place to be. And yes it may take more than this lifetime to accomplish. And that’s okay.
I have my desk at 90 degrees to the window, so I can glance to the side and see nature. Actually, it’s for practical reasons: if I face the desk directly away from the window, then the incoming light reflects off my computer screen, making it almost impossible to work.
“What is personal to the artist is universal to the reat of us.”
Thank you for this reminder.
I realized I had gone pro when I was in a Meisner technique acting class on my birthday, the very hour, last October. And when I spent last New Year’s finishing the last ten pages of my second full-length screenplay. Soon after that, I lost my residence, my pets, a lot of my stuff, my affiliation with certain peers, my day job, my pride. I couldn’t be happier for it. Whatever serves the art, I said.
Now I’ve started my fourth full-length screenplay. It’s like diving into another Olympic-sized swimming pool of molasses. But, damn it, I’m a gonna swim it. Whatever serves the art. Plus, I’ve got music to accompany me.
Link exchange is nothing else however it is simply placing the other person’s blog link on your page at proper place
and other person will also do same for you.
Thank you Steve. My son gave me the War of Art. OMG! you nailed it.I love listening to it in my car. Of course I naturally have signed up for your mini-course. Your words hit deep within me as it does with other creatives here. From a life of depression of not doing creative things I should have done, I developed into the world’s best procrastinator. With your deep echoing words of reality and guidance, now (today) I am declaring to myself for the rest of my life, I am on my Artist’s Journey for the rest of my life. Thank you for your strength and courage to bring HOPE to me (us) that we are not insane, we were just off-course for a while. We are a family you, me and others here as, a family for CREATIVES, our mission… to bring our beingness into the light. Be the beacon!
It doesn’t feel enough. Shouldn’t art be lived, breathed in every moment? Doe’s it come when you call it? Does it mind where you sit? Should we not live it, and enter into a passionate relationship with it? Whether it is pain, beauty, jealousy, anger or depression – hold it close to you. If you live for yourself and see with truth…you are a living piece of art. Express yourself in any form, and know that you have lived.
Thank you Steve for your trying to share what you have learned so generously. I am a fan of the Bhagavad-Gita, and have been for many years. I came across Gita on the Green, which got me to Legend of Bagger Vance. This is the kind of writing I would like to do. Life’s experiences written in a way to help uplift and help illuminate people’s consciousness. I’ve been encouraged by many for years to write…..I like what I’ve seen and read so far that you have here on your website. Putting a prayer in to Bagger Vance Sri Krishna. Thank-you. God bless
Yes it is…you are the only one that could walk this path and the path with be surrounded by many, yet the journey will be done alone….connected with your inner world….
Some one once asked Beethoven if he thought the people would like his symphony. Beethoven was said to have replied, “I didn’t write the symphony for the people, I wrote it for myself.”