By Steven Pressfield | Published: February 6, 2013
My post was a bit of a rant, I confess. Ventilation of a pet peeve. I probably overstated the case. So lemme try again.
We all want our stuff to be seen. If we’re singers or actors or website designers, we want our work to find its hour in the sun. So we’re vulnerable to “opportunities.”
What is an “opportunity?” It’s what a producing entity–a website, a seminar, a movie or music producer, a publisher, a conference planner, a teacher with a class, a promoter with a webinar, a journalist with space or air to fill–offers to a creative entity, i.e. you and me.
Here’s the trade-off, as presented to us:
Give me your screenplay for free and I will put it before people who can finance its production.
Give me your pitch/concept/whatever for free and I will put it before my audience who might buy it.
Give me your presence/time/interview for free and I will put you in a place to gain exposure for yourself and your material.
What I’m trying to say is there are opportunities and there are “opportunities.”
Opportunities (without quotation marks) are for real. If we can hit a wide enough audience, find a sweet enough sweet spot, okay. If we can get to work with a friend and possibly help him or her too, then the trade-off is fair. It’s not BS.
But experience teaches: such opportunities are few and far between.
The person I was really ranting at was myself. I hate myself when I listen to that voice in my head that says, “But you need to network, you need to gain awareness. You have to make friends, you have to get out there.”
Yeah, it’s true. Of course it is. But as Frank Oz once said as he turned down one of these, “I’m not an easy lay. At least not that easy.”
From time to time I have gone on “publicity pushes.” I’ll say yes to everybody. I’ll get “out there” big-time.
It never works.
The needle never budges.
My mistake is picking “opportunities” instead of opportunities.
When Shawn and I started Black Irish Books, we sat down and asked ourselves, “How far do we want to try to take this thing?”
In about six seconds we both said, “Not that far.”
Why did we say this? Because we could already imagine the scenarios of “opportunities.”
We decided that the defining criterion for everything we did would be, “Is it fun?” As soon as something stopped being fun, we would stop doing it.
That means, of course, that we’re not gonna get rich.
That’s okay with us.
From time to time, we get offers to put ads on this blog.
No f*%king way.
There are other “opportunities.” I could take The War of Art on the road. I could pimp the hell out of it, and people would show up. People would pay money.
But then I would have to kill myself.
That’s not the business I’m in, and it’s not the business Shawn’s in. God bless everyone who is in it. They’re doing good and making the world go round. But, for me, sometimes even self-generated “opportunities” are bullshit.
I’m in this business (whatever “this business” means) to work on material that I find interesting and fun (and to not work on anything else), to work with people I like and respect (and to not work with anyone else), and to do it in a way that lets me feel comfortable and true to myself.
I recognize that such strictures do not equate to big bucks. That’s okay with me. I feel about this gig the way Butch Cassidy felt about robbing trains:
“Just as long as we break even … “