Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE

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ARCHIVES OF September, 2011

What It Takes

What It Takes

A Matter of Infinite Hope

By Shawn Coyne | Published: September 30, 2011

There are four words that book agents long to hear. An editor can wax on and on about how much she adores the novel or proposal you’ve sent her and about how well she would publish the book, but until an agent hears “We’re running our numbers,” he doesn’t dare tell his client that the house has moved from “interested” to “on the brink of an offer.”

“Running the Numbers” is code for, “I’ve been authorized by the editorial board to submit a request for an acquisition profit and loss report from the house’s business manager.” Because it is pure speculation, an acquisition P&L is much different than an “actual” P&L, which is based on the actual performance of a book. The acquisition P&L is a matter of infinite hope. The actual P&L is reality…and usually disappointing as only two out of five books published return any money to the publisher.  But, there is a science to the acquisition P&L too. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
11 Comments

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Shadow Novels

By Steven Pressfield | Published: September 28, 2011

Some of the most popular posts in this space have been those in the “Artist and Addict” series. One point those posts made was that there’s not that big a difference between an artist and an addict. Many artists are addicts, and vice versa. Many are artists in one breath and addicts in another. They’re in the studio on Monday and in Betty Ford on Friday.

What’s the difference?

The addict is the amateur; the artist is the professional.

Both addict and artist are dealing with the same material, which is the pain of being human and the struggle against the self-sabotage of Resistance. But the addict/amateur and the artist/professional deal with these elements in fundamentally different ways.

(When I say addiction, by the way, I’m not referring only to the conventional vices of alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic abuse and so forth. Web-surfing counts too. So do texting, sexting, twittering, facebooking; not to mention living on your iPad, dancing with the stars, and keeping up with the Kardashians.)

Distractions.

Displacement activities.

When we’re acting as amateurs, we’re running away from our calling—meaning our work, our destiny, the obligation to become our best and truest selves. This is where addiction comes in. Addiction becomes a surrogate for our calling. We enact the addiction instead of embracing the calling. Why? Because to follow a calling requires work. It’s hard. It hurts. It demands entering the pain-zone of effort, risk and exposure.

So we take the amateur route instead. Instead of composing our symphony, we create a “shadow symphony,” of which we ourselves become the orchestra. Our life becomes a shadow drama, a shadow start-up company, a shadow philanthropic venture. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
33 Comments

War Stories

War Stories

Tabbing, Slotting and Humping Your Bergen

By Steven Pressfield | Published: September 26, 2011

In 1991 after Saddam Hussein had invaded and occupied Kuwait, he started raining Scud missiles on his enemies. This was serious business, as the Scuds were being fired from truck-borne launchers that could “shoot and scoot”—hard to find and even harder to knock out.

Scud

A Scud missile on a mobile launcher. This was Bravo Two Zero's target.

Saddam’s most worrisome target was Israel. The Iraqi dictator was hoping to provoke a military response from the Jewish state, which he could then leverage into a wider war. His aim was to bring in other Arab nations on his side, thus furthering his own ambitions of becoming a second Gamal Abdel Nasser, i.e. the supreme and unifying champion of the Arab world.

The Coalition under President George H. W. Bush dispatched batteries of Patriot missiles to protect Israel’s cities. Still, allied commanders were justifiably apprehensive that the Israeli army could not sit on its hands forever, watching its citizens getting bombed and blown up. What could the Western powers do to knock out the Scuds?

They sent in Special Forces teams.

One such team was Bravo Two Zero. Eight British SAS commandoes under a highly-decorated sergeant named Andy McNab were dropped behind the Iraqi lines with orders to locate and knock out as many mobile Scuds as they could.

The operation went wrong from the get-go.

Here is Andy McNab from his page-turner recounting of that mission—Bravo Two Zero:

We’d been listening to vehicles bumbling up and down the MSR [Main Supply Route: the highway] all day. They posed no threat.

Around mid-afternoon, however, we heard a young voice shout from no more than 150 feet away. The child hollered and yelled again; then we heard the clatter of goats and the tinkle of a bell. (more…)

Posted in War Stories
9 Comments
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