Sunday, December 02, 2007


It's been hard to blog lately. I'm not entirely sure why, except that the pressures of teaching, writing, keeping up internet dialogs and ruminating on life choices have kept me busy. I wouldn't want to let a week go by without posting, though, so I'll offer up a few random thoughts/links here on a chilly Fresno Sunday morning.

A question - are you familiar with Steven Pressfield's The War of Art? I know that many of you likely are. If you're not, though, it's worth a look. Pressfield, of course, is the highly successful writer of Gates of Fire, Tides of War and the forthcoming Killing Rommel - to name a few. His province is mostly that of men at heroic war, but a few years back he penned a thin volume that was part creative autobiography, part self help, part craft book.

What I found particularly memorable about The War of Art was his focus on the concept of Resistance - that multi-headed, ever-changing and variously manifesting force that grows out of us and tries to stop each of us from achieving the things - often artistic things - that we most want to achieve. I found the theory made a lot of sense and was easily evidenced each day. I found that I consistently did time-wasting things for no good reason at all - other than as a way to avoid my writing work. It's weird how it works. Almost feels like I'm always at the verge of becoming a zombie that's led away from the computer out of some compulsion to weed the pathway or check the pattern of the coffee grinds in an old cup or reminisce about how cool it was when I dyed my hair blond... It doesn't matter what I'm doing, which is why resistance seems so sinister. It's a shifty bastard. But, after hearing Pressfield name and shame the thing, I was better able to confront it. His book helped me refocus again and again as I worked through Pride of Carthage.

I bring it up because I'm again thinking about resistance as I work on The Other Lands, the sequel to the first Acacia book. In addition to all the old time killers, now I have the blog, the forum, and ever more websites to suck my time away. I like all of these - and they're legitimately part of my career now - but it's an ongoing battle to achieve a balance. Also, though, I'm aware that I've set some other, overarching obstacles in place. Instead of just micro-resistance I also have some rather larger resistance constructs in place. I'm going to be vague on them for the time being, but once I figure out and overcome the obstacles I'll let you know.

Anyway, The War of Art is a good little book, one that you can learn from even if you have no interest in the sword and sandals adventures that Pressfield is most famous for. Okay, now, for me... I've taken, what, thirty, forty minutes deciding to write this, find the links, choose a few photos... That's enough. I've got a lot of writing to do today... I hereby banish resistance for the next, oh, fifteen or twenty minutes...

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Blogger Constance Brewer said...

I never heard of that book, I'll have to check it out. For the visual artist, there is "Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" which I think is much along the same lines. How do we sabotage ourselves when it comes to creativity?

Oh, and it's not just you with blogging resistence of late. :) I think it has to do with the time of the year...

9:17 AM  
Blogger Andrea Eames said...

Resistance is useless! (As the Vogons in Hitchiker's Guide would say).

I have just finished a blog post about this very thing ... this strange compulsion to clean the windows, sort underwear by colour or alphabetise anything within reach when you sit down at the computer to write. Congratulations on breaking through it for long enough to write a post.

10:24 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


"Congratulations on breaking through long enough to write a post"? No, no, no... That's the tricky thing with this resistance crap. Writing the post WAS an act of resistance! It was a way to keep me from my real work. To keep the monster novel at bay a little while. Admittedly, I've also been uninspired blogging-wise, but it's much, much easier to write words here than it is to carve further into the 250,000 word beast the next novel is likely to be.

Oh, see, I'm doing it again! I should be WRITING, not writing... Oh, it's confusing.

At least I look calm in my author photo...

11:02 PM  
Blogger James McLauchlan Johnston said...

You DO look calm in your photo. Perhaps resistance has rendered you immobile! I hate resistance. I fight it all the time. I can't recommend Pressfield's book enough. The initial chapter will describe anyone's attempt at a creative day completely.

Have you looked at dad's post on The Gift: How the creative spirit transforms the world by Lewis Hyde (presently Creative Writing professor in Ohio)?

I think if you take Pressfield's (negative) resistance and Hyde's (positive) daemon then you really have something to fight with and develop simultaneously. Ying and yang.

ACatOIC - don't forget your towel!

2:11 AM  

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