Steven Pressfield Blog
When I first submitted my manuscript for Gates of Fire, it was eight hundred pages long. It was as big as a Manhattan phone book. My agent, Sterling Lord, told me flat out, “Steve, I can’t sell this. You have to cut three hundred pages.”
It is not an idle or airy-fairy proposition to declare that the universe responds to the hero or heroine who takes action and commits, i.e. you and me when we plunge in, wholeheartedly, to a new creative venture.
When we set out to write a book or a movie—or when we embark upon any innovative venture—we’re taking a step that has terrified the human race since our days back in the cave.
I had been in Los Angeles for about five years. I had written nine screenplays on spec (each taking about six months) and sold none. I had a terrific agent who was also a great friend, Mike Werner.
This post is on the subject of putting your ass where your heart wants to be, i.e. the process of pursuing your creative or entrepreneurial dream by working for it.
Resistance kicked my butt for almost a decade in my twenties. I’ve written about this in The War of Art. I crossed the country thirteen times in that era, driving my ’65 Chevy van, for no reason whatsoever except that I was running away from myself and my obligation to do my own work and follow my own calling.
Eugen Herrigel (1884-1955) was a young German philosopher who took up the study of archery in Japan as a means of deepening his understanding of Zen Buddhism and of the concept of “no-mind.” He studied under the master Awa Kenzo and wrote about it in his classic, Zen and the Art of Archery.
The artist’s work, like the migrant laborer’s, requires intention. It requires will. The artist must want to achieve her end.
What exactly is the artist’s work? There’s a great image—silent, part of a montage—in the 1977 movie Julia. Jane Fonda plays the playwright Lillian Hellman. The shot is of Fonda, bundled up against the elements, walking alone along a wind-buffeted beach. The season seems like autumn, the setting is some writerly province like Swampscott or Martha’s Vineyard. Fonda as Lillian Hellman strides, deep in thought. We see her from a bit of a distance, from behind and to the side, so we can’t see her face or hear anything above the sound of the wind and the waves, but we see…
A Man At Arms is on sale!