By Steven Pressfield | Published: July 1, 2015
The artist’s world is mental.
The sculptor may manipulate clay, the software writer may work with code, but, like the filmmaker and the mystic, their real tools are Shadows and Light.
The sphere of the artist is the mind.
Her currency is imagination.
She asks (how can she not?), “Where do ideas come from?”
Did Rhapsody in Blue come to Gershwin in the shower? Was J.K. Rowling baking a pie when she first imagined Hogwarts? Or was he at the piano and she at the typewriter keyboard?
Like the Zen monk or the meditator, the artist enters a mental space. An empty mental space. He becomes a child. She becomes a vessel.
They tune in to the Cosmic Radio Station and listen to whatever song is being broadcast specifically to them.
What, exactly, is the writer’s skill?
We know what a carpenter does. We can understand the work of a surgeon. But what does an artist do? Of what does her skill consist?
The artist enters the Void and comes back with something.
Her skill is to turn off the self-censor.
Her skill is to jump off the cliff.
Her skill is to believe.
As artists, what are we believing in? We’re believing in a model of the universe (or at least of consciousness within that universe) that is not random, not pointless, not devoid of meaning.
We’re believing in a mental reality that is active, creative, self-organizing, self-perpetuating, infinitely diverse and yet cohesive, governed by laws that are not beyond the grasp and ken of human understanding.
We’re believing that the universe has a gift that it is holding specifically for us (and specifically for us to pass on to others) and that, if we can learn to make ourselves available to it, it will deliver this gift into our hands.
Believe me, this is true.