Friday, March 5, 2010

Resistance



Last year I attended the Catalyst One Day conference at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA where I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting next to friend and bloggy hero Jon Acuff of Stuff Christians Like. We talked about bloggy stuff, family stuff and general pleasantries. Jon mentioned with great excitement a book he was reading called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Because I am nothing if not a procrastinator, it took me almost 10 months to finally read it. But wow – was he right about this book! If you’re a creative person, regardless of your passion, this book will admonish you, encourage you, and spur you on to put aside excuses and pursue your dreams with a new found vitality.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

WHAT I KNOW
There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.

THE UNLIVED LIFE
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands the Resistance.

Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course in yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is….

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.

Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mowed down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: We don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.

Have you heard this story: Woman learns she has cancer, six months to live. Within days she quits her job, resumes the dream of writing Tex-Mex songs she gave up to raise a family (or starts studying classical Greek, or moves to the inner city and devotes herself to tending babies with AIDS). Woman’s friends think she’s crazy; she herself has never been happier. There’s a postscript. Woman’s cancer goes into remission.

Is that what it takes? Do we have to stare death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance? Does Resistance have to cripple and disfigure our lives before we wake up to its existence? How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip, and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to? Resistance defeats us. If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, and the infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage and dandruff.

Look into your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.




So, ready to fight the Resistance? Here's your chance. I'm going to give away a free copy of The War of Art. I'll order it from Amazon and have it shipped directly to you if you're the winner.

If you would like to enter, just leave me a comment on this post. The drawing will be random, but you have to tell me why you need this book. I'll pick a winner next Friday.

40 comments:

Phoenix-Karenee said...

I've been tossing colored powder in the air, trying to detect this invisible resistance and find where it roots the strongest tendrils, and this excerpt just drew a quick sketch and showed me a glimpse of how it grows, just like that! Even if I don't win the drawing, I'll definitely own the book soon.

L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, I want that book. Even if I don't win it, I'm getting it.

Shark Bait said...

It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.

Quite true. I think it is the irony of the century that the most creative people in the world are also often the least disciplined, and yet are the ones who need it most. Thank goodness for wives and agents who are prepared to tie them to their chairs or lock them in hotel rooms.

I could do with some motivation and discipline right now, as I am busy re-writing one of my draft-novels for submission by July.

*looks frantically at calender*

I don't think I specified which July. :-)

♥ Kathy said...

Resistance will bury you. What a true statement! I think I would really enjoy this book. And, ahem, you were in Georgia?? First I was near you in Texas then you were near me in Georgia..I'm a little sad now.

Billy Coffey said...

I already own this book so you can leave me out (not that I'd win anyway, what with the black hate and all). So I'll just say this: I use a Bible for my daily spiritual devotion, and I use The War of Art for my daily writing one. This book should be on every writer's desk.

Rebecca on The Homefront said...

What's amazing is that I've been fighting a war with resistance this week, and then I come over to my good bloggy friend Katdish to find that she has an excerpt that spells out everything I've been thinking and wondering about, along with giving me a good kick in the pants to get going.

Thanks for posting this, Kat. It's true for so much more than writing or creating...

Janet Oberholtzer said...

I'm a writer and I don't have a copy of this book. Therefore (does the KJV word give me an edge?) I should win because I don't have it and according to you and a lot of other smart (even hateful) writers I need it.

Jeanne Damoff said...

If you knew how hard Resistance worked to convince me NOT to leave a comment, you'd know how much I need this book. I'm not even going to tell you how long it's been since I wrote a single word on my current novel-in-progress, but I will say it's figured in months, not weeks or days. So I guess I'll have to buy it and read it even if I don't win it. Boo.

Marty Duane said...

I'm going to put this on my list of must reads. It sounds like an amazing book! I have never won a book on a drawing, but ill put this on my nook wish list ;)

Anonymous said...

Heck this excerpt was enough to inspire me to pursue work on my new children's book "What's that I smell at the Rodeo?"

Bryan Allain said...

If I win give my copy to Janet. It's an amazing book that I read last year and need to go back to. The Resistance is still hard to defeat every day, but giving it a name and learning about how it works has been a huge help.

katdish said...

Okay, Anonymous - Since you didn't leave your name, I can't enter you into the drawing. I could venture a guess (Galloway?), but I have way too many smart @$$ friends to choose from.

Candy said...

I even procrastinateat procrastinating. This may resurrect the writing I feel is in me but never makes it to the written word. I'm hoping it will help with FOCUS.

And if you draw Billy's name, I call dibs.

Helen said...

Because I am stubborn.
Momma used to say I was stubborn just like my Father. She'd say this when I was an adult who didn't do things her way. When I pointed out the irony, and told her apparently I got a double dose in my DNA, she stopped saying that.
My point? Stubbornness and resistance are closely related, if not each other in disguise..

amy said...

Resistance an important thing that we all need to overcome and especially the resistance to write i hate it...if i could have overcome that my blogs be full of articles! :-) cheers!

Bridget Chumbley said...

If you and Billy say I must read it... who am I to argue?

I'm starting "On Writing" (endorsed by the two of you) this weekend, and The War of Art is next on my list!

Melissa_Rae said...

You mentioned this book before as a must read and it's already on my Amazon wish list. I'm starting to wonder how I can work on writing with all this great reading to do...

kirsten said...

I need this book because until this very moment I didn't know I needed this book. I thought I was doing ok, getting a little bit done here & there in My Very Busy Life, but never quite understanding why I wasn't satisfied.

I need this book. The Resistance is bringin' me DOWN.

Corinne said...

I need that book because I can't sit down.
Seriously, I can't write sitting. It doesn't happen. So I write in bits and pieces and that's just not working for me...

Heather of the EO said...

OH MAN.

Heidi said...

So funny that you post on this, a friend was JUST this morning telling me about this book and the whole resistance concept.

Yes, I have tons of resistance. I need to read this book. :-P

Nick the Geek said...

I'm going to stop visiting your blog. I have about 80 gabillion books on my "too read" list and every time I finish one you personally add 3 more.

I think I might hate you, and with my final breath I will curse you as the mountain of unread boos crushes me.

Also, thank you.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Fascinating. So this distraction, this distance, this denial has a name: The Resistance.

Definitely, I resonate with both the desire to live more fully, more intentionally and the laziness of putting it off.

Of course, I acknowledge that this, too, requires balance. But thanks to this post, I'll be thinking a lot the next few days about how much of that is real and how much is excuse.

iStone said...

I am disabled and pretty much stuck at home for the most part. I have 2 Macs at my disposal, am described as a "wordsmith", love to edit photos, video, and audio. I allow the physical limitations to discourage me from time to time. I could use some good motivation that this book seems to contain. I don't have a copy, but would LOVE to have it. Does it come in audiobook form. With severe adult ADHD, I find it much easier to "read" a book by hearing it. I even read my Bible that way. I listen as I read along.

I just woke from a nap, so I am not thinking very clearly, and scanned over your blog. I will read it through with more detail after I finish my coffee. :)

Thanks for the opportunity to win this. What a fun idea!
:)

katdish said...

iStone - If it's available in audio form and you are the winner, I'll send it to you in audio form.

Mary Aalgaard said...

This book (and blog) sound like a good resistence whip. I'd be grateful to win a copy, but will likely buy my own. I'm not feeling lucky.

Tina said...

Ok, if I don't win I guess I really need to get this book because here I sit in my little craft/scrapbooking/blog/watercolor room ... supplies all around, ideas come to me fairly consistently yet there is always something else screaming at me .. laundry, pets, housework etc.. and when I'm done with that I'm tired ....

Cameron said...

I'm a jewelry artist who took a break after my Christmas rush... and didn't start again (yet). Lots of Resistance going on over here in my world. Even if I don't win, I'm going to buy this book!

JML said...

"Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction."

Prime motivation for any man to avoid this in his life. . . on another note, I'm seeing this in so many lives right now that I want to man-cry.

I hate seeing unused potential not for the sake of what they could be doing, but rather for the peace, joy and fulfillment that could be.

I'm with L.T. Elliot, if I don't win, I'm getting it anyways!

Sandra Heska King said...

Wow! I almost missed this post. I want this book. I need this book. My treadmill is hiding under dust. My elliptical is hiding under clothes. My writing came out of hiding for a few years, but now very few years remain. I can't afford to resist any longer!

Pick me!

Robin Arnold said...

What Heather said.

What Nick said.

Water Shack Lady said...

' cause

Boy Crazy said...

I am always glad I've come by here.

So this book looks really interesting - I want to read it because it overlaps with a few things in my life right now. I'm reading a book I highly recommend to you by Brenda Ueland, called "If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit" and it relates to all art-making, not just writing. Really spectacular, I can't seem to put it down and it's a quick read.

Also, I'm part of a writing practice and we talk a lot about writing through resistance. And in that context we're referring to the resistance to write about a particular emotion or issue or whatever. How when you dance around it and try to write about something else, you don't get anywhere until you finally break through the resistance and write about what you really ought to be writing about. Truth. You know.

Ok, /end ramble.

-elizabeth

SM Blooding said...

Count me in! I told myself today was going to be one heck of a writing day, and the Resistance is kicking my toosh. So sign me up!

Frankie

Laura said...

Ooh...this sounds good. I need the book because from that excerpt, I'm deep in the Resistance.

JeMA said...

Yes, definitely would love a copy of this book. Hmmm..resistance is fueled by my guilt, my feeling of "who am I to be...". I struggle with balancing my art with the pull of my housework, four children, dog, cat, and maybe even "Turtle" the fish! I am really tired of resisting my true path!

Cassandra Frear said...

I should get this book. I have the greatest need for it.

I would tell you about all the forms of resistance in my life, but you would not believe it could all be present at the same time. You would say that I exaggerate, that I want attention, that I'm paranoid, that I'm whiny, that I'm seeing things that aren't there. And I would understand, because it does look unreasonable.

But it all happened and is happening and continues to happen. The winds of adversity have blown away everything except the clothes on my back. And yet.

"We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." (2 Cor 4) Christ in us is the hope of glory. There is no other. It is for THAT GLORY the battle matters.

Wishing you joy in all things.

linda w. said...

If I win the book, I'll hand it straight to my husband. His motto could be, "You can lead a horse to water, but if he knows that you want him to drink, he'd prefer to die of thirst."
Maybe his seeing "resistance" in this new light will help. :)

Annie K said...

Where have I been that I did not know about this? I need to get out more.

katdish said...

And the winner (selected by random.org) is....

Janet O!

Congrats Janet!