Steven Pressfield

I think with his/this book The War of Art the phrase ‘timing is everything ‘truly does comes into play. I don’t think I was ready for this information years ago, even two weeks ago but, I’m ready for it now, and more importantly, I’m more receptive to it now.

Whenever I hear the word photography it resonates within me on such a level, even deeper than writing does. Now, this surprises me as I have loved writing more and longer than I’ve loved or known photography.

But, lately my writing doesn’t scare me as much as my photography does. And that, apparently, is the marker of a true calling, according to Steven Pressfield, the thing that scares the bejeezus outta you is the thing or things that you are supposed to do in your life. And any thought of success with my photography does just that for me.

 

Resonance

This has been some spiritual weekend.

It stared out with me reading Steven Pressfield’s book The War Of Art, which opened my eyes to so many things in my life that needed changing that I pledge to keep his book on my desk next to me as further reference and life guide for the future. After reading a few lines, at once I was breathing freer, my mind was clearer and I was stiller.
I found that I could concentrate more, make my way through the pathway of clutter that imbedded my brain. It was easier going for me now. All this to say that it culminated in this weekend’s spiritual awakening. At least that’s what I call it, the freeing of the mind and the opening of the…third eye?
Whatever it is, it let in the information that I needed to continue or start again to be what I know I truly am supposed to be.
An artist.

There, I’ve said.

 

 

War Pt. 2

What scares you more?” asked Steven Pressfield.
“What do you mean?”
“In what you have to do, what you know that you need to do, what is it that scares you the most?”
“in respect to my art, you mean?”
“Yeah.” he replies. “Which one scares you the most?”
“Ah…um…” I ponder.
As I sit there across from my teacher I force myself to think about the thing that scares me half to death, the thing that makes me shake and shiver at night and leaves me in cold sweats at the mere mention of it. I’m forced to think about why it does that…and in what situation it happens. Trapped as I am, I sit in a forced position, unable to run or escape, I am compelled to sit and list all the things in my life that scare me half to death and why. I am forced to go through all of the feelings I get in trying to even attempt these things, the ice cold strike of fight or flight-in which flight always wins out. The sheer terror of actually making it at the thing that I fear the most and what would it be like to actually succeed at this thing? I am forced to ask myself the question ‘what will I do afterwards if this should work?’, what will I become, who will I become?
When I sit there in the tufted chair across from the man that has single handedly opened my eyes and ears to the truth as I should have heard it years ago, I make myself sift through all of the  layers of fear and the terror that run through me of me doing the thing I fear the most, the thing that makes my insides shake and shiver and break out in a cold and icy sweat at the mere prospect of having to do this thing , never mind succeed at this thing, I can only come up with one thing.
“Photography.” I say. “My photography scares the living daylights out of me.”
“Why?” he asks calmly.
“…I don’t know…it just does.” I lie.
(…Unfortunately, the first of too many lies.)
“You sure you don’t know?”
I shift in my seat and try to think of other things that might be more interesting than what we’re talking about now: the birds outside, swinging in the breeze trying to catch each other, the plant I forgot to water that morning, The chicken I forgot to take out of the fridge, that giraffe that’s supposed to give birth any second now (what is taking so long?!)
But he’s better than me, he waits me out.
“Yeah, ” I say, “I really don’t know.”
(see?)
“So when you say ‘it scares the living daylights out of me’ what is it about that that makes you feel so? What do you see when you see yourself doing it?”
“I see myself…failing.” I say finally truthful. “…Or…
succeeding…if that makes any sense…”
“It makes perfect sense,” He replies with a huge smile. “Plenty of people are scared of succeeding. It’s a little known fact that success frightens the Hell out of people. It scares them into a standstill in their ives. It makes them take a step back and away from all that they’ve either worked so hard for or want so badly.”
“That’s crazy,” is all I can say, too stunned to say anything else.
“I know, but, it’s true. People are generally pretty cool with keeping the status quo, not shaking up the apple cart but they don’t realize that that is excatly what they have to do. It they want to break out of any stagnation then they are going to have to step out of their comfort zone to do it. They are mistaken if they think that the life they want is going to reside in their comfort zone, it’s not going to be that good, they are going to have to be afraid and scared and fall and get up and fall again, and get pushed, get stepped on and get up and go back at it, at the work that propelled them towards this new life that they so wanted but never knew.
I thought abut this and it scared me even more…then it made me angry.
How could I have not known this before?! How could I have not known my enemy had a name and it was the thing that was holding me back this whole time?
But, what was I to do about it now…?

…Where was I to begin…?

The War Has Begun…

I am sitting in the seats of the auditorium beside my best friend and her husband, and I am crying. The source of my tears is Steven Pressfield, the author of the book, the tome, the sacred vessel that has changed my life, The War of Art. 
I am crying because he has touched upon a nerve I had long thought dead and buried, dormant and decayed to the point of no recognition.
But, I was wrong.
Here I sit , crying silently into my hands, weeping as though a child who’d lost her mittens or favourite cat or stuffed toy. I am hoping to keep this from my friend but, as always, she seeks me out and is there to help me up and succour me.
At the point where I coved my face with my hands I felt her walk past me and, not knowing what she was going to do, just sat here and waited.
“Hi, um, I have a friend here who  has gone through just what you’ve been talking about.” I hear her say into the microphone.
Startled, I look up at her and immediately know just what she is going to do and, when it happens, I am ready. I take my turn at the microphone and, after hugging her tightly, I turn towards my teacher and say my name.
“Hi, I’m Loretta Stephens, (just like that, I am Loretta Stephens, I have no idea why but, I’ve always just said it that way.)
“Hi,” Steven says. “How are you?”
“I’m doing okay,” I say drying up my last sniffle.
“I’m here to tell you that I know exactly what you’ve been talking about. I’ve spent my whole life doing just what you’ve said, putting myself last and squashing what my calling is to put others first. My whole life I’ve spent doing that. And it’s a little heartbreaking to realize that that’s what they were doing, my family, putting me last and in effect telling me that I wasn’t worthy-of doing what I was doing, of doing the thing that made me happy-every time I felt like I had some space to finally do what it was that I really wanted to do I always felt that, here they come to interrupt me, to stifle me and bring me out of whatever it was that I was doing for me so that I can do for them, instead. They always let me know that whatever I was doing was not as important as whatever it was that they wanted from me at that moment.
It’s gotten so that I’ve squashed my calling so far deep that it’s become like an adventure-a quest just for me to find it again! Sometimes I feel like I’m in an Indiana Jones movie or a Lara Croft  film, going on an expedition just to find my calling again and brig it back to me.”
“What do you think it’s doing?” Steven asks.
“I dunno,” I shrug dismissively, “Playing cards, hanging around somewhere…waiting for me to find it, I guess.”
“But, it’s still there?”
“…Yes,…I think so…” I say growing more and more sure with each new word. “I can feel it…with everything I have I know I still feel it…ike it’s always been there, you know?  I think this whole time I was waiting, too, to finally have the map I needed to find it, them.”
“Them?”
“Yeah,” I laugh, “There’s more than one, there are many, in fact, I love to do a lot of things.”
“Do you mind if I ask what they are?”
“No, it’s art. I love to create, anything…sometimes they work but other times they don’t and…I’m okay with that.”
“Did you hear yourself?”
“…I did…” I smile.
“That’s part of the process, too.” he says. 
“I know, your book taught me that. It took me so long, to know that. After countless bouts of encouragement from my friends and building up of my confidence-which I still struggle with-I feel I finally know this.
But, I’m still working on putting it into practice.” I laugh.
“It takes time,” he laughs with me.
“It breaks my heart everyday to know that I could have had a different life than I have now, I could have been living the dream, the life I’ve always wanted, the life I should have had if not for them-if they would’ve only put me first and let it be known to me that I was worth putting first.”
“I know it’s been a long time but, you’re here now. Be thankful that you’ve discovered this now. Some people go their whole lives and never get to where you are.”
The audience applauds around me bringing me somewhat out of my bubble-like reverie with Steven. I am only slightly shocked to see people around me as if they only just arrived out of the ether, spectres and hallucinations of time and space come to jar my memory and dissolve my resolve.
“Give yourself some credit, it sounds to me as though you’ve come far.”
My best friend is the first to start the second round of clapping.
When the cacophony dies down I ask the question that has haunted me for years and what has truly brought me up to the mic stand.
“I’m older now, can I still have an artistic career at this age?”
Without even asking how old I am he simply says, “Yes. of course you can.”
The applauses rings even louder, drowning out the other queries  have, the speculations the misgiving, the doubts. I am left with all the answers I am going to get and maybe, all I am ever going to need.
“May I ask what it is that you do? What kind of artist are you?”
After years of denial and shame, and lack of confidence I stand up to the mic and I say as strongly as I can, “I’m a writer and a photographer…,among other things.”
“That’s great.” he says with a genuine smile. “Thank you so much for sharing.”
“Yes, thank you.” Say Oprah.
I nod my head and silently , and gratefully head back to my seat, refreshed and anew, as if washed in a new bath of clearest, purest water the eyes have ever had the good fortune to look upon.
I feel like nothing can stop me now, only myself. I feel like I now have a handle on my past and more importantly, on my future. I feel like I can actually see clearly now, for the path is right there in front of me…I feel like… I just may have a future…in whatever it is that I do. 
I feel like this is what freedom feels like.

*This blog is about so much more than just writing. It’s about my quest to find myself and my true creative nature, my centre. My journey has only just begun, even this late in the game, I may just still have some time…

Where are you…?

Where do you find a story? Is it in you? And, if so, where do you start looking?

In the past, I have always relied on reading to give me the images and feelings I needed to start writing. But, lately, and after a too long a break, I am finding it harder and harder to reach the story or stories that may still be inside me.
Always, I am at a query as to what to do about this new ailment that afflicted itself upon me, this no name pox that sucked out my nearly last remaining ounce and drop of creativity over these long last years.
I grow tired of always chasing the source to no avail.
I am tired.

Presently, I am on a literary reading binge. I started out with “Plainsong” by Ken Haruf but, it was too slow, despite being a really good read, then I contemplated reading “The Bees” by Paul Laline (I think) but I wasn’t ready for it. So now, I’m reading “The Guernsey Literary Potato-Peel Pie society” which, admittedly, I wasn’t too keen on getting involved with, as I don’t like the letter writing format of any novel, but, as with “Where’d You Go Bernadette/Where Are You Bernadette?” I was pleasantly surprised, and happy to have picked up the book.

Play time

No more waiting.
Play time is over.
I have to start writing soon. Now.
In the far reaches of my mind I can feel the last billows of smokey embers that wisp away in the darkness and emptiness of my mind of a story, or stories still waiting to be told by me.
It may be desperation or just blind hope, hope that I was sure was long dead and gone by now, but whatever the reason, they were and are still there.
The remnants, the debris, the dying wish a tale waiting to be told.
It is in there, within me, stoic and steadfast, like a sentry in the night, on duty, waiting to be called or be confronted by an enemy needing to be defeated.
I am here to answer that battle call.

…but, before this can happen, I need to breath…, and get up.

Ambient Beings

I can’t remember if I posted this already but I think it’s worth posting again.
I’ve come across a couple of really cool websites that help with my writing process.
I say ‘mine’ because I don’t know how other people write but for me this works wonders!

As I write I love to hear certain sounds, like water running, breeze blowing maybe even, people talking,
albeit, quietly, in the background.
That’s right, these two websites produce ambient sounds for you to get productive to!
My first favourite is Noisli.com.

http://www.noisli.com/

It’s basically one page but it displays two collums of sound icons that you can choose from to listen to from, thunder, rain falling, train running on train tracks to fire at a campsite.
It doesn’t ask you to sign in or sign up when you first arrive.All you have to do is click on any of the icons that appeal to you and start listening.
Oh! And you can layer them as well, meaning that, if you want the full rain experience then you can click on rain and thunder and water droplets at the same time.
You can also adjust the volume.
The background changes color as well, which is a nice touch.

My other choice is Coffitivity.

https://www.coffitivity.com/

This is a website where you listen to the sounds in a cafe at different times of the day. Here, you only get three options to listen to for free. They charge between $3-$9 for their premium package which gives you ‘unlimited access to our audio tracks to perfect your workday‘.
I haven’t bought the premium pack as I am just fine with listening to their Morning Murmur, Lunchtime Lounge and, University Undertones options. You might think that they are all the same but they do differ one from the next, mostly in volume than anything else.
Anyway, I like it, as a change of pace, it works for me.

So far, these two pages are really helping with my own productivity.
I hope they help with yours, as well 🙂