The Artist’s Journey, #12

I’ve spent part of the past couple of weeks recording the audio version of The Artist’s Journey, as well as copy-editing the eBook and the paperback. Sometime in July, we’ll have all of them ready to go. As Black Irish Books we can’t compete with Amazon or B&N on shipping prices but one thing we can do is offer discounts on bundles (paperback, eBook, and audiobook together at one low price) and on bulk purchases (55% discount on orders of 10+ copies of the same book). We will do the same for The Artist’s Journey. And now back to the ongoing serialization of The Artist’s Journey. If you missed any of the prior posts, you can get to them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8. Part 9. Part 10. Part 11.

 

51. A QUICK NOTE RE RESISTANCE

The stages of the artist’s journey share one aspect in common.

They are all battles against Resistance.

Resistance meaning fear.

Resistance meaning distraction.

Resistance meaning temptation.

Resistance meaning the aggressive self-perpetuation of the ego.

Resistance meaning the terror the psyche experiences at the prospect of encountering the Self, i.e. the soul, the unconscious, the superconscious.

On the artist’s journey we develop skills. Skills we did not have before.

We teach ourselves these skills.

We apprentice ourselves to others wiser than we are.

We are fortifying ourselves, training ourselves against fear, boredom, laziness, arrogance, self-inflation, complacency.

Our aim is to make ourselves masters, not just of our craft, but also of ourselves.

When we underwent our original hero’s journey we were neophytes. We had no idea what we were doing.

Now we are different.

We return to the fire determined to do it better this time.

 

52. AN INDEX OF BASIC SKILLS

What follows is my own idiosyncratic inventory of the fundamental (mandatory) skills that the artist acquires on his or her artist’s journey.

 

53. THE ARTIST LEARNS HOW TO START

This sounds so obvious, so self-evident. And yet …

Not one aspirant in a hundred, in my experience, is capable of pulling the trigger, jumping out of the airplane, diving head-first into the icy pool.

 

54. THE ARTIST LEARNS HOW TO KEEP GOING

The phrase “Act Two problems” has become a cliche. Why? Because the winnowing scythe of Resistance cuts down so many aspiring artists right here, in mid-odyssey. Here’s David Mamet from Three Uses of the Knife.

In his analysis of world myth, Joseph Campbell calls this period in the belly of the beast—-the time which is not the beginning and not the end, the time in which the artist and the protagonist doubt themselves and wish the journey had never begun.

… How many times have we heard (and said): Yes, I know that I was cautioned, that the way would become difficult and I would want to quit, that such was inevitable, and that at exactly this point the battle would be lost or won. Yes, I know all that, but those who cautioned me could not have foreseen the magnitude of the specific difficulties I am experiencing at this point—difficulties which must, sadly, but I have no choice, force me to resign the struggle (and have a drink, a cigarette, an affair, a rest), in short, to declare failure.

 

55. THE ARTIST LEARNS HOW TO FINISH

Notice please that these first three skills exist in relation to Resistance. They are about overcoming Resistance.

Before our hero’s journey, we had never even started a project. (We had fabricated some excuse to put it off.) Or if we had started, we bailed in the middle or choked at the end.

But now we are different. We have been toughened by our real-life hero’s journey. We will not yield this time. We will find our way over, under, around, or through the obstacles, no matter what.

Note too that these first three skills are aspects of professionalism. They are the same skills that are mastered by the professional athlete, the professional businessperson, or anyone (including Moms and Dads and their own kids in school) who is committed to an aspiration or a calling.

These skills and others we’ll delineate in subsequent chapters constitute the infrastructure of the artist’s power. They are the tracks along which his locomotive rolls and the foundation upon which the edifices of his city rise.

 

56. THE ARTIST LEARNS HOW TO HANG ON

I worked on a movie that took seventeen years to get made. When the Writers Guild opened the arbitration process for screen credit, more than thirty screenwriters filed.

One writer, the originator of the project, had been on the picture from the beginning. Even when he was fired and other writers or other teams of writers were brought in, he stayed attached as a producer. (He made half a dozen other movies in the interim, by the way.)

He was brought back four different times as a writer. He was there at the finish. He got the credit. He saw the movie made.

Was he crazy?

Maybe.

But this writer over his career has been the originator of three big-time artistic and box office hits (an incredible feat), including one film that’s a legitimate Top Fifty classic.

The artist learns how to hang on.

THE WAR OF ART

Read this one first.
It identifies the enemy—what I call Resistance with a capital “R,” i.e. fear, self-doubt, procrastination, perfectionism, all the forms of self-sabotage—that stop us from doing our work and realizing our dreams.
Start here.
Everything else proceeds from this.

The-War-of-Art

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1

THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

noboybookcover

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

9 Comments

  1. Mary Doyle on May 2, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Looking forward to this book’s release in July – thanks for so generously feeding pieces of it to us each week in the meantime – this is pure gold!

    • Mando on May 2, 2018 at 8:02 am

      I concur. Thanks Steve for your service to artist-kind. Looking forward to gifting the book and continuing to apply the practices of professionalism.

  2. John Heisman on May 2, 2018 at 8:35 am

    “Yes, I know that I was cautioned, that the way would become difficult and I would want to quit, that such was inevitable, and that at exactly this point the battle would be lost or won.” Best admonishment I could receive.
    Thanks again Steven.

  3. BarbaraNH on May 2, 2018 at 8:45 am

    This all just gets more and more beautiful and inspiring. Thanks so much! Can’t wait to sign up for all the editions (great that you are doing an audiobook, too), but I so appreciate each Wednesday morning.

  4. Renita on May 2, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Steve
    One book I started at least four years ago has always had a weak middle and a too predictable ending.
    This told me to start over with a new beginning that could support an Act 2. Act 2 is called Fun and Games by one of your favorite authors, Blake Snyder. If your first act can’t lead into F&G, maybe it’s time to rework it or even have the guts to scrap it and start over.
    Imho. 😉
    Act 3 should be up front all the time representing the fulfillment of the journey. Imho. 😉

  5. Anonymous on May 2, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Steve,

    Thank you so much – About 20 years I have been trying to get my screenplay produced – Keep your fingers crossed for me – Put looks like I may get an option soon. The crazy thing is that the story has been featured in the Washington Post and people have written about it and I can’t get one person to listen to me and I am the granddaughter. Go figure? http://sparrowsbeach.com/

  6. Julie Murphy on May 2, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    “We return to the fire determined to do it better this time.”

    “On our hero’s journey we acquire a history that’s all our own…We will draw upon it the rest of our lives.” Steven’s Writing Wednesdays, Untitled Book, Installment #2

    Thank you so much for providing a travel log instead of a map. It’s easier to return to the fire with our personal history from the first forging. Thanks, Steve.

  7. Brian S Nelson on May 2, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Dear Steve,
    Totally excited to buy the trifecta. As much as I love George Guidall’s narrations, I totally prefer to listen to you read your thoughts. I listen to the Art of War and Turning Pro 3-4 times a year, I need reminding of these principles repeatedly.
    bsn

  8. Anonymous on May 3, 2018 at 6:35 am

    “The artist learns how to hang on.”
    Thank you– it’s just what I needed to be reminded of this morning.

Leave a Comment