It’s a metaphor that’s been around since Jonah. Writers talk about it as the state of being deep in the middle of a work as the wheels are coming off, your faith in your talent and in your ideas crashing head-on into failed structures and dead-end choices. In Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield, “the belly of the beast” is where projects, dreams, and lives are won and lost.
The belly of the beast is either where I’m at with my current project (a play called Lost Cause), or I’m coming to it.
So here are a couple of things Pressfield’s Do the Work has to say about getting through this part of the process,which again, for Pressfield is all about a very serious war.
- Resistance is an enemy who is is implacable, malicious, and out to destroy the work.
- The voice of Resistance is inside you, but is not you.
- The only possible scenario is to do battle with Resistance like a knight facing down a dragon. It’s kill or be killed.
At this point, Pressfield now, finally, turns to the place most people start: the dream, the vision, the initial explosion of energy that leads to attempting anything in life. I find it so interesting that Pressfield puts this idea here, after he’s pounded the idea of war into our heads. He hooks us into the vision side of the equation like this:
- Resistance arises second, after the initial urge to create. He calls Resistance “the shadow cast by the innovative self’s sun.”
- The urge to create comes first, and it is based in love. The opposite of fear is love.
- When we take up the battle with Resistance through love of the work, the idea, and the people we offer it to, “Assistance” will come.
And then, he asks a very simple question: “How bad do you want it?”
If you answer anything other than “totally committed”, he says “put this book down and throw it away.”
And now we’re back to Peter Block’s The Answer to How is Yes.
So with Lost Cause, I’m pretty much in the belly of the beast, and yes, it’s a war. No sympathy here–it’s just the work. Even as I wrote this blog post, what felt like a major salvo landed in my psyche, an interruption with the potential to disrupt in pretty negative ways. Pressfield’s warrior stance has helped me with this, as has my ongoing research into the Civil War. I was at a Men’s Breakfast event this morning in which the notion of “Spiritual Warfare” was discussed. For whatever reason, themes of battle and war have been brought to my attention as they relate to the creative process, and the overall processes of living. Disruptions are not as strategic as they are simply the way life goes. My job is to meet them with grace and force, and continue working.
How badly do I want it?