Steven Pressfield Blog
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…
Whatever talent I might possess as a writer can flee tomorrow. I don’t care.
Imagine yourself back at the beginning of time. The universe is raw energy, blasting faster than the speed of light in all directions.
When we think of Picasso we imagine Cubist tours de force like Guernica and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, where horses have their heads turned around backward and young women pose with two eyes on one side of their faces. But the young Pablo used to plant himself in the Louvre before pure representational masterpieces by Rembrandt and Leonardo and copy them stroke for stroke.
A Man At Arms is on sale!