Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Photo: Cover of The War of Art, from Pressfield's own site--http://www.stevenpressfield.com/the-war-of-art/
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Brilliant and succinct meditation on the artist, the artist's calling, the philosophy of being a writer, and it does all of these things in ways that I would never have thought imaginable. Some very memorable things in here, such as the fact that Krishna says that we all have the right to our labor, but not to the fruits of our labor. (This means that we, as writers, have the right to work on our art--in fact, he says, we have the obligation to work on our art--but that we do not have the right to dictate to the gods, to Fate, or whatever, what should happen to our art after we create it. So you write, and you finish, and you move on. Brilliant in its simplicity.) Or that we are all meant, in a Zen-like way, to do one thing in our lives, and that we allow our Ego, and specifically what he calls Resistance, to get in our way. I'm not much for self-help books (this one, The Secret, and The Road Less Traveled are the only ones to ever do anything for me), but The War of Art is a keeper. This one book inspired me to get up at 5ish every morning to write before I go to work, and to also work last thing at night before I go to bed. I'm not creating genius all that time, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but I am creating something.
Genius. If you're a writer, buy it. It'll change you.
Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
A pale addendum to it's predecessor, The War of Art. The latter I consider to be the Bible of self-help and kick in the butt for writers. I've recommended it to others (and I recommend it to you); I re-read a portion of it everyday. This one, not so much. Sort of cashing in on the respect of the first one, to be honest with you. Can't hurt to read it, and it's pasted together in such a way that it'll take you less than an hour to read. But it probably won't help, either. Nothing new, or of depth, here.
Food for the Dead by Michael E. Bell
Brilliant book, and by a local guy, too. The backbone of the research I've undertaken for my current WIP. The style is deceptively simple--or just simple--but the key to it is the matter-of-fact and laid back approach he brings to his interviews and to his dissemination of fact and folklore. Well summarized, if not a little slapdash with the Stukeley/Tillinghast/Mercy Brown and Nellie Vaughn parts. Some facts come at you circuitous, but it's a good read, anyway, especially if you live where I do.