When I got back from New York (book deal stuff!), there was a package on the doorstep. Inside the packaged was a lunchpail. “Hmm…I didn’t order a lunchpail,” I thought. It looked like this:
Inside the lunch pail, which sported the logo of a boxing glove with the words Black Irish inside, various Steven Pressfield books spilled out at me. The War of Art and four copies of his new book and follow up, Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work.
One of the copies had this inscription:
For Josh, who doesn’t need it. Your pal, Steve.
(incidentally, I have to disagree with him. I still need a lot of the advice in Turning at times, but I didn’t put up much of an argument).
Well, there are only a few things you can do when one of your favorite authors decides to unexpectedly reach out and send you a gift, and autographs. I yelled. I clapped my hands. I got goosebumps. I showed my four year old. He didn’t care, but he liked the lunchbox, which is now full of marbles and crackers.
And then, of course, I sat down to read. Turning Pro is every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be. No surprise there, not for me.
Essentially, Turning Pro continues the points outlined in War of Art.Namely, that if you feel compelled to do something creative with your life–writing books, painting, singing, sculpture, etc–and you do anything else, that it will drain you and agitate you and drive you nuts because you’re not doing what you’re meant to do with your life.
Anything that keeps you from doing whatever your creative work is, is called resistance. Turning Pro is not exactly a manual for overcoming resistance. It is a retelling of how Pressfield overcame his own terrors about writing. About how he got over the feeling that his creative passions were somehow reckless and irresponsible and less noble than the steady (if often unsatisfying work) of trucking and other jobs.
What exactly does it mean to “Turn pro?”
Let me give you a few examples of chapter headings about the characteristics of amateurs and you’ll see the direction of the professional:
- The amateur is an egotist
- The amateur lives by the opinions of others
- The amateur permits fear to stop him from acting
- The amateur is easily distracted
- The amateur seeks instant gratification
- The amateur is jealous
- The amateur lacks compassion for himself
You get the idea.
Turning Pro is a big pep talk. If you’re the type of person who thinks this sounds good, then you’re probably the type of person who could benefit from it. I know people who have read it, rolled their eyes, and said, “Yeah, but there’s nothing applicable in it. It doesn’t tell you how to really do any of it.”
I agree, and it probably wasn’t written for those people. I think that’s one of the book’s strong points. It doesn’t pretend it can say “Here’s how you go about creating art.” It doesn’t teach you how to make art. It doesn’t teach you how to leave a job, where to find cheap insurance, how to write better, and so on. What it does, for me, is provide an example of someone who is finally living his dream and who admits that:
- It has been/still is terrifying at times
- The choice wasn’t easy
- The successes haven’t come with immense financial rewards, but the psychological/emotional/spiritual benefits have been immeasurable
- The decision to defeat your own personal resistance must be faced over and over and over. It’s a conditioning process that might never go away
There’s more. So much more. By this point, I imagine you know if you want it, and I’m happy to announce that for three of you, the price (free!), doesn’t get any better.
If you’d like to be in the drawing, please leave a comment. Use your real name. Tell me why you’d like the book and if you’re an artistic type, or if you’re struggling with resistance in your life, I’d love to hear about it if you’re comfortable sharing.
I’ll do the drawing on Saturday, June 30.
Oh, and if you want to join the book club, I won’t stop you.