Monday, October 18, 2010

Resistance is Futile!

Win a set of my trilogy, The Garden Gate series, by making a comment today and having your name entered into a drawing. I'll notify the winner after 5 PT. By the way, thanks for coming along today.

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.
~ Steven Pressfield from
The War of Art

If you write copy for election advertisements, you don't have to read this. Resistance doesn't know your name. But if you have chosen the artist's life, no matter the medium, and you're bleeding from battle, let's talk.

Pressfield articulates the struggle precisely in his tidy tome, The War of Art. Resistance, he says, is "a force of nature. It acts objectively." So when you answer the call to create (or anything else you can't finish in a nanosecond), you will come across a pernicious energy that seeks to kill the artist within.

Resistance comes in many forms. Doubtless, your nemesis is on this list: procrastination, fear, spouse, relatives far and near (including children), jobs and bosses, bad days, good days, feeding the poor, baking PTA cupcakes, giving blood, TROUBLE, a headache, automobiles that don't work and those that do, promises made in haste, the clock, a beautiful sunset, a moonless night, and people who feel guilty because they've given into resistance while you sat at your computer typing the Great American and/or Canadian Novel.

Whatever prevents you from creating is by definition resistance.

Wait! Don't comment yet. I'm not saying that spouses and children et al are inherently bad. NO!!! They are good and worthy of your love and nurture. That's what's so sneaky about resistance. It can be good things that keep you from creating.

We understand one another, don't we?

We don't slay the tools of resistance, we manage them. But that discussion is for another day.

I've written six novels. I know what it is to be a warrior artist, but I have a new-to-me source of resistance.

For background: The door to publishing opened readily for me. I held out my indulged manuscript, and a publisher swept it up, and then four more. I'm too embarrassed to share the self-important thoughts that filled my fat head in those first months.

Fast forward to several months ago: I ate my self-important thoughts. My book sales didn't warrant more risk, so I'm publisher-free. With a lance in my gut I battled resistance to finish my work in progress, but now what?

What to do? What to do?

My dragons have mushroomed in size. And my sword is a toothpick!

What to do?

After prayer and counsel from my husband, I spent the weekend filling out applications, polishing an odd resume, and cursing the invention of cover letters. I need to find a job. A real job. During a recession. Help!

The notion of having a job and writing at the same time isn't the greatest source of resistance I'm facing (not yet). No, it's worse than that. There's the very real possibility that my poor sales performance will dampen my writing career, meaning publishers may shy away from this poor-performing author. And so, my stories may not reach an audience.

I'm trying very, very hard to sharpen my sword on what Pressfield says, "...the artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling...He must do his work for its own sake...Do it as an offering to God."

My sword is still nicked and dulled, but this is where I want to be again, writing for the pure joy of creating, whether I have an audience or not.

Can you relate? Are you steeped in the battle to create? Is it possible to find joy in writing without an audience? What causes resistance for you? How do you battle on? Let's talk!

30 comments:

collettakay said...

Very interesting topic today and a very generous giveaway.

pepsi324[at]yahoo[dot]com

Jan Cline said...

Oh yes, I can relate. Im not published yet, but Im getting closer and resistance lurks around every corner. Life is a series of starting over. Ive had to do it several times in the last 20 years, but we always come back to writing, yes? We press through the hard stuff and reject the negative thoughts that come with it. I love the quote...it's so true...dont depend on anyone for validation. Only God can do that.

Jan Cline said...

Oh and my email is jancline(at)ymail(dot)com
:)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Toothpick and cupcake comments cracked me up.

And yes, I'll be marching out looking for a job in less than two years b/c as we all know, writers don't make "real" money. ;)

I always joke w/ my husband...that is unless I sell millions of my novels. And then we laugh together. Loud. Sometimes a little too loud.
~ Wendy

Patti Hill said...

Good morning, Colletta, Jan, and Wendy! Thanks for stopping by. Here's another quote from Pressfield:
"Give the act to me (God).
Purged of hope and ego,
Fix your attention on the soul.
Act and do for me."
Okay.
And Jan, starting over is at the essence of our faith. His mercy and lovingkindness are new EVERY morning. You have to love that.

Lori Benton said...

I read Pressfield's book a few months ago and it changed the way I approach sitting down to write each day. Since 1991 I've faced down (and sometimes been beaten by) that nebulous resistance, almost daily. My resistance isn't usually one thing or person, but innumerable little distractions, laziness, the desire to be entertained rather than to work. Now I have a name for it, a better understanding of it, and am stronger to overcome it.

[insert segue]

God has whispered to my heart lately about laying down my expectations when it comes to a writing career (and anything else, really). I'm not to be hoping in my dreams, or my own notion of what would be best for me, but in Him. If I hope in Him and trust to His good plans and loving nature, and continually lay down the burden of my own expectations and desires, I find I'm much less tightly wound about it all.

Just like overcoming resistance, I relearn this almost daily. :)

Trinity Rose said...

Intresting post today. Really gives you something to think about.
Thanks for the giveaway.
Many blessings,
Trinity Rose
wandaelaine at gmail dot com

Jenny Mertes said...

I get waylaid by my own expectations of perfection and self-doubts about my motives and abilities. My good friend and writer Debbi Vaughn reminded me to write for His glory, not for mine, and for His purposes, not for income. She suggested writing letters of encouragement to people God lays on my heart. I am encouraged. My email is jenny@genesisnew.com

djsbreed said...

Patti, I am not a writer, but a fan. This was an interesting topic for me because I realized as I read how much time I spend overcoming resistance in various areas of my life, keeping me from achieving all I want to. And, how often I give in to the resistance and don't achieve at all. I'm an undisciplined self-motivator!

djsbreed said...

Patti, I am not a writer, but a fan. This was an interesting topic for me because I realized as I read how much time I spend overcoming resistance in various areas of my life, keeping me from achieving all I want to. And, how often I give in to the resistance and don't achieve at all. I'm an undisciplined self-motivator!

Slow'n'Steady said...

‎"Wherever you draw the line, is where the battle begins." -Elisabeth Elliot

vonildawrites said...

I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one with distractions and laziness as resistance. The problem is, they're not real resistance! They're completely self-imposed. Hope to write daily.

That is, indeed, a great give-away, and I'll say a prayer that you find a writing-friendly job.

Blessings,
Voni (richnvoni at yahoo dot com)

Patti Hill said...

Lori: I just "published" you! I printed your comments to post on my bulletin board. Thanks for pointing us all to His Glory.

Trinity Rose: Thanks for stopping by.

Jenny: Self-doubt is my biggest source of resistance. It can immobilize me. Yes, to His Glory.

djsbreed: You're so right. Resistance comes against anything that is worthwhile, especially if
we are doing it to honor the Father.

Slow 'n' Steady: Great quote! Distills the whole issue into one sentence.

Heather said...

The "my sword is a toothpick" comment was the best! :0) Hang in there!

I think my worst resistance comes from my inability to say "not now" to things like internet, email, and invitations. But I'm slowly getting better...at least on email and internet. ;0)

skribblegurl at gmail dot com

Nancy Williams, LPC said...

A timely topic for me this morning Patti. I have to remind myself daily that the question is not can I manage the distractions that are there; the question is - can I manage myself in the midst of them? Can I keep my focus on my purpose and my goals? Ah .. some days better than others.

It seems that when I let my mind wander off my purpose, goals, and intentions, the things that create resistance for me stir more easily and pull me away from the path I want to be on. I like that phrase you shared in your comment, "Fix your attention on the soul. Act and do for me (God)."

For me it's about focus and self-discipline. It's also about faith.

Great food for thought, Patti.

Lynn Dean said...

Loved reading that your "sword is a toothpick." :) I feel like that often--reading back what seemed profound when I wrote it, I think, "Why on earth did you think you could write?" It really drags me back to the Audience of One. In the end, my ways are not His ways, and my thoughts are not His thoughts. I have so many expectations, it seems, about the way things "ought" to be, but I exist for His purposes and not the other way around.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post and a generous offer.

discovertexas(at)hot(dot)rr(dot)com

Cherry Odelberg said...

Starting over: I have had so many lives, I am starting to believe in reincarnation - in the same lifetime. I sooooo identify with you.
I believe it is Billy Graham's autobiography which says, "The person who needs constant reassurance will not succeed." I keep telling myself, audience of one, audience of one....but I actually LIKE a full audience - and lots of applause.

Patti Hill said...

Voni: I so agree that I'm my own worst enemy. My resistance comes from the space between my ears. And thanks for the prayers.

Heather: I do best when I schedule Internet and email "work." Otherwise...well...I don't get much writing done.

Nancy: Yes, there will always be distractions. It's how I interact or not with them.

Lynn: Expectations based on unmet needs and wishful thinking are the most distracting things of all. You're wise to recognize that.

Cherry: I know, I know, I love an audience too...the bigger the better. The affirmation is instantaneous. Novel writing takes much loooooonger. Thanks for your transparency, darlin' girl.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

When I think of the great writers of the past I remember their distractions were hunger and cold from lack of coal for the fire, darkness because they couldn't afford candles and tuberculosis or any other lingering death. Rudyard Kipling's 'The Light that Failed' is a glorious book about the artist's (painter not writer but it all applies) war.
I am not able to write every day. Grief has twice interrupted my WIP for many months. I am glad I don't write for any audience and the Author, besides using every interruption to grow me is very patient when I am not obedient to the writing He has called me to do in a day.

Patti Hill said...

Henrietta: God does interrupt us for refinement. And his hand can be heavy. His love leaves a mark. But he also comforts. Pray you have found shelter in the shadow of his wing.

Karen Schravemade said...

Oh, Patti, I feel for you so deeply. My heart went out to you as I read this - wish I could give you a big hug. Thank you for making yourself so vulnerable to share this. It's humbling to realise that even established authors of true talent (I've read your graceful, lyrical prose) still suffer setbacks and detours in the road. But I am believing for you that that's all this is, a detour through new country, with new perspectives, new horizons, new insights. God will deepen and broaden you, I'm certain, in ways you can't yet imagine. And I know that this, in turn, will deepen and broaden your work as an artist.

And yes, I share your struggle, although from a different place. I understand what it's like to write without an audience, with no publisher in sight, with relatives and friends who can't understand what's taking so long - "So have you had that book published yet?" - how humiliating it can feel to be judged by a lack of outward success.

I also understand distraction. Oh boy. I had my second baby 7 months ago and haven't written since. It's taken that long to regain some kind of grip on everyday life. But now that I'm beginning to emerge from a 7-month haze of constant exhaustion, I feel like it might be time to dig in again. I just don't quite know how to begin.

Kathleen Popa said...

Oh my goodness, how amazing you're all talking about The War of Art - because the e-book is going to be on sale for $2 for two days, starting 10/20. Go to the author's blog at
http://www.stevenpressfield.com/2010/10/the-war-of-art-ebook-for-1-99/

Now, not only do you get Patti's beautiful, honest and encouraging post, but we also get to point you toward a bargain. Makes me happy.

Sandra Stiles said...

I can relate. I am a teacher, an as yet unpublished writer. I get excited when I get rejection letters because it means I am one step closer. I know that if and when my book is published it will be in God's timing not mine. In the meantime my students who are waiting for my books to join the other books on my shelves at school keep me encouraged. Hang in there. Remember the old saying, "Let Go and Let God"

skstiles612[at]yahoo[dot]com

Sheri Blume said...

I can totally relate. Resistance has been a bedfellow of mine for quite some time. The title of your post reminded me though that a while back, I actually went online and purchased a trading card from a Star Trek game that said Resistance is Futile. Sort of a talisman. I should dust it off.

I wish you much luck in your writing and quest for a publisher!

jeanna Thornton said...

Patti, I'm new to your post...but love it! I also read *the book* and read parts to my husband, *kicking* and realized so many of my issues were from resistence...I refer to *the book* often!

kathy said...

Gardening and reading are my therapy! Thank you for including it in your writing!

sally apokedak said...

What a wonderful post! I hate to hear that you have to go out and get a job, but I think your post is helpful.

I'm tempted to get really long and preachy. I'll try to hold myself back.

I love that you are not filled with self-pity and are instead wanting to write for the pure joy of creating, whether you have an audience or not.

And to answer your question, yes it is possible to find joy in writing without an audience.

I have never had an audience and I find great joy in writing. Yes, I also find joy in the journey--meaning I do believe I'm on a journey to be published one day. But even if someone told me today that I'd never be published, I would still find joy in the writing. When I write, because there are no contracts, maybe, I have a lot of fun. I can do whatever I want because no one is expecting anything from me.

I can write in any genre. I can write in any style. I can experiment. I can push myself. I can crack myself up and make myself cry. Maybe that sounds self-indulgent. But I think other writers get this. If we aren't laughing and crying as we write, our audience won't be laughing and crying while they read. So I think the thing to do is to first write for yourself. Not even for God. You write to obey God, but I don't think he's the reader we want to please. I think we are audience. Write so that you are laughing and crying with your characters and what does it matter how big the audience is? You've had a good time writing it.

The side benefit is that when you enjoy it, others usually find you and join you in the appreciation of your work.

So write for fun and don't even worry about about poor sales hurting your career. God is bigger than your sales history. Just write for pure joy. Your lack of a contract may be God's way of setting you free to reach new heights.

http://wynnbexton.blogspot.com said...

Thanks to Steve Pressfield for forwarding this on Facebook. Just what I needed to read. 1/4 of a final chapter to go in a long historical-fiction project and Resistance is holding me a bay. Every bit of encouragement helps me sharpen my sword and surge forward. Thanks for this. I'll look forward to reading more of your blogs.

Hilarey said...

Thank you for the transparency. It is nice to be reminded that there are not any thresholds to cross: getting published, married, pregnant, rich, that will satisfy all our desires--fix all our problems.
I loved the toothpick picture too.
This reminded me of something in a video series from Focus on the Family (The Truth Project.) They explore how we were created...to create.
I think that explains the opposition.

Samantha Bennett said...

This post just brimmed with truth, grace, beauty, all that! Already emailed a link to my writing buddy. Thank you, thank you for sharing! (samanthajbennett85[at]gmail[dot]com)