Book #40 for 2016
Old Firehouse Books Summer Reading Bingo Square: A book recommended by a celebrity
When this book was recommended to me, I had never even heard of Steven Pressfield. I’d heard of The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life, but it had never sounded particularly interesting to me. (It still doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s not any good.) This was a small volume, though, and it was a free download, so I figured I didn’t have much to lose by reading his sh*t.
This is a short book and probably a really quick read if you aren’t already doing a million other things at the same time (my standard mode of operation), so I was surprised by the amount of concrete advice he was able to include. There is, of course, some motivational rah-rah here, but not so much as to be distracting. And if you have attended any seminars or workshops on narrative structure, then a lot of his advice in that regard is likely to be review for you. Still, there were several structural devices he described that were new to me, and I think he did a good job of describing ways to break away from the standard structures (while still respecting them) to create art that is not just recycling the same old sh*t.
I especially liked that Pressfield balanced the inspirational and the perspirational without resorting to exercises. I mean, I like a lot of things about The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, and I even find some of their exercises useful, but too many of them are impractical or downright silly. Pressfield seems to give his readers credit for being able to figure out for themselves how, specifically, to practice their arts.
I would recommend this mostly to beginning writers and writers who have had some success but are feeling stalled out. I’d say it also pairs nicely with Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.