“The War of Art”

I was given the Steven Pressfield book, The War of Art, as a gift. It was an amazingly inspiring, and yet quite easy read. I read it so fast after receiving it that it didn’t even have a chance to make it onto my “Currently Reading” list. I have found that as I go along with this plan–or lack of plan–I am greatly comforted by other people who have had the exact same experience.

Pressfield even describes this as he says that once you make the commitment to your destiny, you start to meet people who you would have never met before. I also think it has caused me to read things that I wouldn’t have considered reading. I was never really big on self-help books, but now I find that these self-help books for writers about writing are quite magical.

Each one of them describes THAT moment, where presumably rock bottom has been hit in some regard, and two things happen:

  • there is truly nothing else left to do but write or consider the possibility of a lifetime of unhappiness, and
  • you suddenly realize why and how so many things that have gone wrong in life went the way they did.

It absolutely feels like magic. It’s like in The Alchemist, when it’s declared that when you go after your dreams, the entire universe conspires to help you. Because it really does. Everything suddenly goes right in one fell swoop.

Another thing I really loved about Pressfield’s book is that it went back to a conversation I had about being a “pro.” And it’s not about the money. I remember having this conversation with a friend of a friend about the draft of my first novel. He just couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that I considered the victory to be finishing it. Even if it never sells a single copy. It was my catalyst. It wasn’t about anything other than me learning that I could and that I would be helped along the way if I did.

It’s the reverse of what we think it is. Amateur vs. Pro. The amateur writes because she thinks that one day she’s going to make money. She struggles and gets help to produce a product that she thinks the public will buy so she can live off of her words. And that was my concern with myself. It’s the same concern I had for myself about being a teacher. I got a master’s degree not to make more money, but to be better. To perfect my art. To be what my students needed.

I write because it’s such a part of me that if I don’t do it, I start to die a little. And I can see that happen in cycles over and over again in my life.

The Pro? The pro writes for this very reason. Because it is what she is meant to do. She writes what she is meant to write. Not what she thinks will make her money. It’s not the “key” or the “trick” or the “way out” of something else. And that explained it all to me. Why everything fell into place so smoothly. I didn’t wait until selling some work bailed me out. I bailed myself out by writing.

And so my war wages on…here with the reason that I got three hours of sleep on Monday night…