Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Warriors and Mothers

By Steven Pressfield | Published: May 17, 2017

 

 

What are the virtues of an entrepreneur?

Allison Janney as "Mom"

Allison Janney as “Mom”

What qualities of mind do you and I need if we are going to succeed as artist/entrepreneurs?

One answer (the one I usually use) is to say we need the virtues of warriors:

Courage.

Self-reliance.

The ability to endure adversity.

Another way is to say we need the virtues of mothers.

I had a dream once. I was living in New York, driving a cab at night, trying to write in the daytime. A friend came to visit. My friend was one of these wildly extroverted guys, who immediately went out on the town and came back with fabulous stories of all the fun he was having. I found myself thinking, I should be like him. Why am I denying myself everything, busting my butt day and night? Have fun, Steve! Stop being such a monk!

Then I had the dream. In the dream another friend’s wife, who happened to be pregnant at that time, came to me and sat down at my kitchen table. “Steve, you are pregnant too,” she said, “with that book you’re writing. You can’t go out partying. Your responsibility is to the new life growing inside you.”

The dream was right.

I woke up and immediately stopped worrying.

That movie that’s gestating inside you? That’s your baby.

That novel.

That album.

That new business.

The virtues you and I need to develop are the virtues of mothers.

A mother puts her own needs second (or third or fourth or fifth.) The needs of her child come first.

A mother will kill to protect her baby.

She will sacrifice her own life.

She’ll run into a burning building to save her child.

She’ll lift a Buick off her infant with her bare hands.

A mother knows how to say no.

No, she won’t go to the club.

No, she won’t drink those mojitos.

No, she won’t ingest that banned substance.

A mother eats right.

A mother gets her sleep.

A mother weans herself off Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram (at least most of the time.)

A mother is the definition of tough-minded.

A mother is the consummate professional.

She is in it for keeps.

She is in it for the long haul.

She is in it 24/7/365.

Nothing under the sun can shake a mother from her object, which is to nurture and protect and defend and prepare her baby to grow into its fullest possible potential.

A warrior is nothing compared to a mother.

Wanna be an artist? An entrepreneur?

Be a mother.

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

18 Responses to “Warriors and Mothers”

  1. May 17, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Dear Steve,
    We do not have children, the bipedal, save for college type anyway. It is a choice that frequently causes others to ask for an explanation inferring that we are selfish, Godless, Hedonists that have completely missed the meaning of life.

    Sometimes this hurts. We have been serial (mostly failed) entrepreneurs, and to answer that our animals, our businesses, our non-profits have been our ‘acts of creation together’ has rarely satisfied the traditional inquisitor.

    This post was confirming in a way that feels like coming home. Thank you.
    bsn

  2. fjr
    May 17, 2017 at 7:06 am

    I might add that a dedicated mother is not continuously assessing and mourning what she is missing by virtue of being a mother rather than being footloose. Her eyes are on the road she travels, with all its challenges and richness.

  3. Mary Doyle
    May 17, 2017 at 7:26 am

    I love the spirit and truth of this piece – thank you!

  4. May 17, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Thanks. I needed this today. Last night I was thinking about how I live like a monk. My actual child is nearly 35 years old, married, no children. I live in one town and teach in another, so I have a little one-room efficiency apartment and zero social life after school…because I’m writing, writing, writing… I like thinking of myself as a mother of creative “children” more than I like the idea of being a monk. Thank you for a better metaphor.

  5. May 17, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Well said. Thank you.
    And you won’t hear a dedicated pregnant mother-to-be talking about how the unborn child will probably be a failure and a disappointment, either. Hope and confidence in the child’s future help to fuel the dedication.

  6. May 17, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Dear Steve –

    Thank you. Mother’s Day has historically been hard for me. My own mother died by suicide, plus I have never been married or had children. This was the first Mother’s Day I was 100% okay with who I am. I moved to Los Angeles a year and a half ago to resume my first love- acting. Since being here I’ve been in a number of short films and commercials, published my book, and have found like minded people. The process of creating is akin to birth and raising a child- it demands EVERYTHING. But more than that, when we answer the call, we find our place in the world. Your books have been corner stones for me.

  7. BING
    May 17, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Excellent – another wonderful way of seeing our true selves as I plow through the garbage of my false self.

    – Thanks

  8. May 17, 2017 at 10:15 am

    This mother of six whose first book will be published in 2017, thanks you. My children have taught me what it means to be a professional. They’ve been my best inspiration and my best teachers.

  9. May 17, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Wonderful inspiration as always! On behalf of all mothers who chose life for their children, I thank you for this beautiful tribute to them. We can all be and must be like them. I’ve got so many books inside me, I’ll be pregnant for the rest of my life, for as each is born, there are still many more waiting to be. Life is good! You rock, Steven. God bless.

  10. May 17, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    What happened in my brain, reading the post and then reading the comments (always read the comments!) was this – thinking about the creative work, the book, as a baby is easy. Babies are cute and darling, making the noise, mess and interruption easier to tolerate. Teenagers are not that cute and darling, and their noise, mess and interruptions are far more aggravating. I wonder if my book isn’t born yet because I know the pregnancy is ‘way easier than the birth and the upbringing these days, meaning the never-ending marketing and promotion phase. Just my thoughts about your thoughts… Very helpful, Steven.

    • Regina
      May 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      only to quote some guy I read: “Stay stupid!”

      …and somehow that’s not so hard if you live with a teenager! lol

      Which passion are you going to feed? Not that fear monster, leave him in the dirt!

    • Christine
      May 17, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you Steve for this ode to mothers. I too read the comments, and have these comments on the comments:
      – teenagers are a gift… a work of art in progress
      – pregnancy and motherhood can be so all-consuming that there is no room for any other creative project
      – dedicated mothers, AMAZING mothers, may very well mourn what they are missing by “virtue” (interesting word choice) of being mothers.
      – a wonderful mother-to-be may very well be terrified that her baby will grow up to be a failure at knowing how to live life.
      – the mother ethos is a metaphor, just as the warrior ethos is a metaphor. Just as writing a novel is NOT the same as watching friends die on the battlefield as you get torn by shrapnel… writing a novel is also not the same as pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.
      These are useful metaphors that help us find strength to achieve the extraordinary. It isn’t helpful to mothers (nor veneran warriors) to see them as anything other than regular people like anyone else. Ordinary people. Not on a pedestal.
      It is our insistence of putting great novelists on a pedestal that prevents us too from achieving greatness.

  11. Jim Gant
    May 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Steve,

    Amen to today’s post.

    Truer words have never been spoken!

    Jim

  12. May 17, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    That was right in the heart

  13. May 18, 2017 at 4:26 am

    The greatest EVER, Steve: “Nothing under the sun can shake a mother from her object, which is to nurture and protect and defend and prepare her baby to grow into its fullest possible potential.” My Baby is not about writing “the story” – My Baby is TO KNOW and SHARE [from all that I have learned on My Journey] we all have the “potential” to be able to touch the dimension of consciousness within ourselves that can never be hurt or wounded no matter “what happened” and is done when in The Present Moment. LOVE this quote that came my way when needed: “When you are born in a world you don’t fit in, it’s because you were born to help create a new one.” ~Anonymous~

  14. May 24, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Great post. It brings to mind Josh Olsen’s now classic ‘I will Not Read Your Fucking Script’: http://www.villagevoice.com/2009/09/09/i-will-not-read-your-fucking-script/ I don’t think Pressfield is saying we ought not be generous. More likely that we are not obligated to respond to an endless stream of requests. The lack of awareness on the part of the asker that this stream exists is part of their cluelessness.

  15. May 30, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    This post changed my perspective. Thank you.