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

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ARCHIVES OF April, 2013

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

“One for Love, One for Money”

By Steven Pressfield | Published: April 24, 2013

A friend who’s a painter sent me this in an e-mail:

When you write, are you coming from your gut/heart, or from a merchandising view? Both?

Boss

When you're the Boss, love is money

It got me thinking about the old Hollywood axiom, “One for love, one for money.” This is the wisdom proffered in good faith to writers, actors and directors by their agents. It means, “Alternate the projects you work on. Do one that’s commercial, then do the next ‘for art.'”

The counselor offering that advice is trying to steer her client’s career between Scylla and Charybdis. Don’t be too precious and work only on artsy-fartsy stuff. But at the same time, don’t be so mercenary that you stick only to surefire commercial trash. Glide back and forth. Keep your hand in both worlds. The “one for money” will pay the rent, the “one for love” will feed your soul.

Of course most of us aren’t lucky enough to even get this choice. We don’t have the luxury of turning down paying gigs. But let’s set that hardball reality aside for the moment. The question on the table is: “Do you work from your gut/heart or from a merchandising point of view?”

Here’s how this issue has played out in my career:

I’ve been trying to sell out for years. My problem is I can’t find anyone to sell out to. I’ve tried to go commercial. I’ve tried to pick surefire winners. Every time I do, I crash and burn.

Now I may be an exception. My case may not apply to others. I’m a spec writer, not a writer-for-hire. Meaning what I like to do is invent my own stuff, then roll the dice on whether or not I can sell it. Someone in that boat doesn’t have the luxury of fielding offers. I might have a different opinion if I did.

The question remains: what criteria do I apply to a spec project of my own? Do I choose the one that feels commercial? Or do I go with the one I love?

(more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
30 Comments

What It Takes

What It Takes

Inside/Outside

By Shawn Coyne | Published: April 19, 2013

On my very first day in book publishing (way back in the typewriter days), I was forced to confront an age old dilemma.

Welcome to Publishing!

Even though I stupidly claimed that Beowulf was my favorite book at my interview, I’d been hired as editorial assistant to the editor in chief of a big mass market paperback publisher. As luck would have it, my first Monday was also “editorial meeting day” at this house. If you want to know what a publishing company is like, go to the editorial meeting. Everything you need to know will happen there. No matter what is discussed, you’ll be able to tell whether the company is doing well or not, who is riding high, who is in trouble, who is a toady, who has the chip on the shoulder, and every other important dynamic. It’s like a mandatory weekly Thanksgiving dinner with a multi-generational dysfunctional family.

As the assistants were en route to the big conference room overlooking Central Park, I made a very big mistake.

I walked into the room first.

As the fresh faced Newbie, I had no understanding of the professional culture or social faux pas. I barely knew where the bathrooms were. But I was playing it cool. Even with damp hands, an arrhythmic heartbeat and a stomach three quarters full of acid contending with an egg and cheese on a roll I’d eaten off the Halal cart on 52nd Street, I acted like Fonzie.

Rule number one for a person entering an alien environment? Don’t call attention to yourself!

The assistant to a senior editor (two steps down from an editor in chief) was tasked with showing the new guy the ropes. She was very nice.  After I found a seat, she excused herself to get a cup of water down the hall.

Then the other assistants came in.  They casually sidled up to the three quarter length windows above the waist high heating/air-conditioning built-ins along the north wall. It really was a spectacular view. I felt like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl.

A 9:29:30 a.m., all four of the double doors were breached and an army of tweeded big shots marched through. They dumped dog-eared manuscripts and personalized coffee cups and pulled up pleather knock off Eames chairs to the twenty foot table. It was very exciting. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
13 Comments

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants To Be

By Steven Pressfield | Published: April 17, 2013

If you wanna get strong, go to the gym.

Piano

How to get to Carnegie Hall

If you wanna get fast, go to the track.

If you wanna get rich, go to (I’ve never figured that one out).

The point is: where the body goes, the spirit follows.

Therefore, move thy butt.

Put your ass where your heart wants to be.

If you want to paint, don’t agonize, don’t ikonize, don’t self-hypnotize. Shut up and get into the studio. Once your physical envelope is standing before the easel, your heart and mind will follow.

If you want to write, plant your backside in front of the typewriter. Don’t get up from the chair, no matter how many brilliantly-plausible reasons your Resistance-churning brain presents to you. Sooner or later your fingers will settle onto the keys. Not long after that, I promise, the goddess will slip invisibly but powerfully into the room.

That’s the trick. There’s nothing more to it. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
33 Comments
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