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Thread: ARTS: Welcome to the Fiction and Prose Arc of our Arts and Music Circle

  1. #1

    ARTS: Welcome to the Fiction and Prose Arc of our Arts and Music Circle

    Welcome Treeleaf Writers!

    This space is for anyone who writes, from authors of long and short fiction, to memoirists and journal keepers, to essayists and commentators, to dabblers and the writing-curious. All styles. All skill levels.

    As a Sangha, we are connected through Zen specifically and by Buddhism broadly; and while strictly speaking, we have no prescribed subject, may we find the Buddha at the heart of what we write and share.

    By way of introduction: I pursued fiction writing as a graduate student and then became a college creative writing instructor to fiction writers and poets. As I look over my work from that period in my life, I see I was already slouching towards Buddhism, although I didn't know it. This movement is something I can only see now, from the vantage point of all that's come after--love, marriage, a career change, cats, travel, the aging of my parents, lost and found friends, the rising moon. This fact, this discovery of self that comes from the act of writing is central to my position here as encourager of this forum: the act of writing can help us understand ourselves. This is why it's important to welcome all skills, all styles, all attempts, all stages of draft and craft.

    We can do many things here. I can post writing prompts. We can do flash fiction. Trade memoir excerpts. Coalesce around a theme. Respond in prose to another art form. Write jataka tales. There's so much. But as I've thought about how to engage this space into something vibrant and thriving, it occurs to me that the best way to start is by listening.

    Who are you?

    What do you write?

    What would you like to see here?

    With deep bows,

    Hensho

    satlah
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-24-2021 at 02:29 AM.
    Hensho: Knitting Strands / Stranded on a Reef
    "Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises." -Elizabeth Zimmerman

  2. #2
    "Who am I?"

    Is that a trick question? :-)

    I'm a freelance tech writer, I've been writing full-time for more than 15 years. Before that I was a translator for many years (French > English), before that I taught English as a foreign language, and before that, well, I did a number of different things, including some work in finance.

    I've written hundreds of articles and a couple dozen books about computers, software, mobile devices, and related topics. I've come to hate technology, and if I could make a living writing about anything else, I would change, but at my age - 61 - it's too late to make a major change, and would be financially risky to slough off the experience I have in my field and try something new.

    I have dabbled with fiction over the years; I've written a number of short stories, and about two-thirds of a novel, until I realized that it wasn't very good, and as much as I would like to write fiction, I've never felt that I'm competent enough. If there's ever a time to try to write a novel it's in lockdown; after all, Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the plague in London when the theaters were closed.

    I don't know what I expect to see here, but I'm curious.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    流文

    I know nothing.

  3. #3
    This is a great idea. I'm trying to be a novelist and this year I'm also posting a short story once a month on a website I set up. Maybe it could be in part a support group for fiction writers and a place to share how we go about our craft. Thank you, Hensho, for starting this thread.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  4. #4
    Lovely to have creative writers represented outside of poetry. Thank you for taking this on, Hensho!

    I think it would be a good place for fiction writers such as Onkai to share some of their work (would you like to share a link to your website, Onkai? I think that a number of us would like to see what you are writing! I wonder also if we should have an art circle listing of member websites of their work under different the different categories?).

    My training was in science writing and non-fiction is still my comfort zone but I don't mind a bit of creative writing as well. In haiku circles, we often combine prose and poems in a form known as haibun, which takes its format from Matsuo Bashō's travelogue writing such as Narrow Road to the North.

    This is one I had published on Zazen...

    First light. With fumbling hands, I reach for matches. Striking one, I wait for the initial burst of flame to die down, then gently place it tip to tip with a stick of Japanese incense. The stick is thin and around six inches long, fragile enough to need careful handling so as not to break. As it catches light, the tip begins to glow, and I note the familiar aroma of sandalwood and jasmine enter my nose, slowly raising it to touch my forehead in a sign of respect. Again, with slow deliberate movements, I place it fully upright in a bowl of earth and take my seat on the cushion.

    mountain lake
    the mist clears
    breath by breath


    (Blithe Spirit 28(4), winter 2018)


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 01-19-2021 at 04:02 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Lovely to have creative writers represented outside of poetry. Thank you for taking this on, Hensho!

    I think it would be a good place for fiction writers such as Onkai to share some of their work (would you like to share a link to your website, Onkai? I think that a number of us would like to see what you are writing! I wonder also if we should have an art circle listing of member websites of their work under different the different categories?).

    My training was in science writing and non-fiction is still my comfort zone but I don't mind a bit of creative writing as well. In haiku circles, we often combine prose and poems in a form known as haibun, which takes its format from Matsuo Bashō's travelogue writing such as Narrow Road to the North.

    This is one I had published on Zazen...

    First light. With fumbling hands, I reach for matches. Striking one, I wait for the initial burst of flame to die down, then gently place it tip to tip with a stick of Japanese incense. The stick is thin and around six inches long, fragile enough to need careful handling so as not to break. As it catches light, the tip begins to glow, and I note the familiar aroma of sandalwood and jasmine enter my nose, slowly raising it to touch my forehead in a sign of respect. Again, with slow deliberate movements, I place it fully upright in a bowl of earth and take my seat on the cushion.

    mountain lake
    the mist clears
    breath by breath


    (Blithe Spirit 28(4), winter 2018)


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Thank you, for sharing the haibun, Kokuu. It is beautiful. Also, thank you for inviting me to share my website. It is lzshortstories.wordpress.com I started it on January first, and plan to add a short story on the first of each month this year. A list of Treeleaf member websites would be wonderful, so we could see each other's work.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    Last edited by Onkai; 01-19-2021 at 04:03 PM. Reason: making a website address into a link
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  6. #6
    Thank you for starting this, Hensho, hopefully it will encourage me (and others) to write more and take the plunge.

    I'm a lawyer and have a theory that most lawyers are frustrated writers - I'm no exception. I write a bit of poetry and play about with haiku when I have a minute. I'd like to branch out into something longer and expand into prose poems and ultimately a short story or two, but we'll see!

    Gassho,

    heiso.

    StLah

  7. #7
    All these responses are so lovely, and remind me that historically, writers have enjoyed a lofty perch. The trick is to realize that the act of writing is available to us no matter what our background, training, job, or aspiration. We can all do it.

    Recently, I picked up A Buddhist Journal: Guided Practices for Writers and Meditators, by Beth Jacobs. If you are thinking of "taking the plunge," as Heiso says, you may consider taking a look at this book. If you work through it, you won't end up with a short story or an essay, but you'll have practiced some interesting techniques that may help inform your Zen practice.

    One of the exercises she recommends is freewriting. Freewriting is simply committing pen to paper without judgement or stopping. Just write, write, write, like stream of consciousness. Spelling and grammar don't count. You don't need a thesis. You don't even need an idea. You can start by writing whatever pops into your head or by describing something you see, your big toe or your coffee cup or an ant. It doesn't matter. The only rule is that you keep going.

    Her basic Rx is this:

    Freewrite
    Stretch
    Shikantaza
    Stretch
    Freewrite

    I'll be doing this for the next week or so just to see what comes up. In the past, I've found nuggets in this practice that have led to bigger things. It's a good way to plunge in. If anyone does the same, please post how it goes.

    Gassho,
    Hensho

    sat/lah
    Hensho: Knitting Strands / Stranded on a Reef
    "Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises." -Elizabeth Zimmerman

  8. #8
    Recently, I picked up A Buddhist Journal: Guided Practices for Writers and Meditators, by Beth Jacobs
    That sounds like a really interesting book and great exercise to do! Thank you, Hensho!

    I recently bought a book on writing by Zen teacher Peter Levitt called Fingerpainting on the Moon but have yet to read it.

    Perhaps at some point the Beth Jacobs book could be used as a study guide or maybe just, as you have here, for suggestions of exercises?

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  9. #9
    Hello! Thank you for taking on this writing initiative.

    Who are you?
    I manage a small non-profit that delivers mental health programs regardless of means.

    What do you write?
    I''ve published a couple dozen short stories over the course of my life, and contributed several chapters to a business communications textbook.

    I am currently working on a novel.

    What would you like to see here?
    I don't know yet. I am happy to see this develop organically.

    Gassho,
    Jim
    Sat Today
    Last edited by JimInBC; 01-20-2021 at 05:10 PM.

  10. #10
    I'm self-/unemployed at the moment after taking a year out to write (amongst other things). I usually work in IT or education.
    I've done bits of writing over the 12 months. I wrote a book about my failed attempt to hike the length of the Pyrenees in 31 days, a couple of short stories and a handful of poems, but nothing good enough to get published anywhere.

    Currently, Non-fiction-wise: I'm trying to write a training guide for combat athletes. And fiction-wise: I have a novel idea that whichever angle I come at it, just isn't working.

    I'm interested in reading what others here write, along with picking up any tips for improving my writing or helping me stay disciplined and actually sit and write!

    Gassho,
    Phill /Sōka
    sat

  11. #11
    . . . it strikes me that "who am I?" is at the heart of Buddhist practice.

    We have a lot of different interests already bubbling up. So great to see. In the weeks to come, I'll be building out options that aim at reaching the varied interests expressed here. If you don't see what you need at first, hang in there or drop me an IM. This is an iterative process--we can grow it as we go.

    I've started two threads already: a place to get writing prompts and a place to share our writing. I'll also start a third where we can discuss craft.

    More to come.

    Gassho,
    Hensho

    sat
    Hensho: Knitting Strands / Stranded on a Reef
    "Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises." -Elizabeth Zimmerman

  12. #12
    Thank you, Hensho, for starting multiple threads. I'll have to check them out. My copy of A Buddhist Journal: Guided Practices for Writers and Meditators came in today, and I'm looking forward to using it. I also ordered a copy of Fingerpainting on the Moon, but that was only available used and will arrive within a few weeks.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)
    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    Thank you, Hensho, for starting multiple threads. I'll have to check them out. My copy of A Buddhist Journal: Guided Practices for Writers and Meditators came in today, and I'm looking forward to using it. I also ordered a copy of Fingerpainting on the Moon, but that was only available used and will arrive within a few weeks.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    This makes me smile.

    Gassho,
    Hensho

    sat
    Hensho: Knitting Strands / Stranded on a Reef
    "Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises." -Elizabeth Zimmerman

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Lovely to have creative writers represented outside of poetry. Thank you for taking this on, Hensho!

    I think it would be a good place for fiction writers such as Onkai to share some of their work (would you like to share a link to your website, Onkai? I think that a number of us would like to see what you are writing! I wonder also if we should have an art circle listing of member websites of their work under different the different categories?).

    My training was in science writing and non-fiction is still my comfort zone but I don't mind a bit of creative writing as well. In haiku circles, we often combine prose and poems in a form known as haibun, which takes its format from Matsuo Bashō's travelogue writing such as Narrow Road to the North.

    This is one I had published on Zazen...

    First light. With fumbling hands, I reach for matches. Striking one, I wait for the initial burst of flame to die down, then gently place it tip to tip with a stick of Japanese incense. The stick is thin and around six inches long, fragile enough to need careful handling so as not to break. As it catches light, the tip begins to glow, and I note the familiar aroma of sandalwood and jasmine enter my nose, slowly raising it to touch my forehead in a sign of respect. Again, with slow deliberate movements, I place it fully upright in a bowl of earth and take my seat on the cushion.

    mountain lake
    the mist clears
    breath by breath


    (Blithe Spirit 28(4), winter 2018)


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Lovely word craft Kokuu, more please.
    Thanks for the book tip Hensho, I do a lot of writing and will add that to my wishlist. I also found Natalie Goldberg's 'Old Friend From Far Away' a great source of inspiration in exploring the question Who Am I, it led me down some very unexpected roads.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Sattoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  15. #15
    Hello - it will be interesting to see how this thread develops.

    Briefly -I've been writing for as long as I can remember possibly driven by that question 'who am I'. I soon discovered that entering the inner worlds of
    characters helped me to answer that question so I enjoy writing fiction, poetry and song lyrics that contain a narrative.

    I've published two novels, one exploring dementia/what constitutes a sense of self/personal identity (Blue Grey Island) and a memoir/novel (Conversations with Leopard) that is a meditative account of living with chronic illness.
    The memoir mixes magic realism with recall and has a strong Zen flavour. Both novels are available on Amazon kindle with a free sample 'look inside'
    if anyone is interested in taking a peep. The kindle price is set minimal as not interested in making money from my writing - just in sharing and hopefully getting some thoughts out there that might help/inspire others.
    My web site needs updating but there's some poetry on it and other info. on novels.
    www.paulaburns.co.uk

    Just now I'm finding it hard to write at all, many projects on hold as I ride out the storm of my husband's cancer diagnosis and we find a new way of being - and both grappling with that ever present question 'who am I'.

    Gassho

    Jinyo
    Last edited by Jinyo; 01-27-2021 at 12:19 PM.

  16. #16
    That question, Who Am I? There are as many ways to answer it as there are trees in the forest and crickets in the trees.

    On some level, I find it very hard to say who I am. Whenever I get close, I find that an element of pretense has drifted in. I find myself on a journey from who I am to who I would like to be back to who I am.
    And around and around we go. I started my adult life as a writer, but I don't know if I can call myself a writer anymore. But I do write.

    I survived my graduate school writing program and got a doctorate for a novel I wrote, but when it was finished, I wanted nothing to do with that book any more. I taught writing and writers, but out of a pure need for survival, I left academia for a job writing in the corporate world. Now I don't even recognize that woman. But I love that woman, and I am thankful for how she led me to where I am and who I am today.

    Deep bows to all who are here and to all who will come. Let us find our way together.

    Gassho,
    Hensho

    satlah
    Hensho: Knitting Strands / Stranded on a Reef
    "Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises." -Elizabeth Zimmerman

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