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Thread: ARTS: The Craft of Writing

  1. #1

    ARTS: The Craft of Writing

    This space is for discussing the writing craft, in all its forms.

    The possibilities are endless. Here are some ideas:

    • Expository Writing
    • Technical Writing
    • Approaches to Memoir
    • Journalism
    • Fiction
    • Genre Fiction
    • Composition
    • Styles, Tropes, Purple Prose
    • Sentence Patterning and Rhythm
    • Grammar and Usage
    • Dialogue
    • Short Story Arcs
    • Novel Arcs
    • Plot and Subplot
    • "It was all a dream" and other pitfalls
    • Narrative and Point of View Choices
    • Contemporary Writers
    • Not So Contemporary Writers
    • Buddhist Influences, Other Influences
    • Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, Post Modernism, Beyond the Post Modern, etc.
    • Writers We Like

    Looking forward to this evolving discussion,
    Gassho,

    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
    Let me start this by asking: What is the Zen Aesthetic and how, if at all, does it inform your writing?

    Gassho,
    Henso

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

  3. #3
    Hi Hensho

    For me, the Zen aesthetic comprises simplicity and directness, presence and awareness. There may also be elements of pointing to universal truths within the specifics of the world.

    In haiku, we start off with a set of images and pick one or two that reflect the scene we are trying to make. Even after that, excess and superfluous words are removed, leaving only the bare essence. This approach can also be applied to prose writing and I find that it is something I have gone into the habit of. Natalie Goldberg calls it 'writing down the bones'.

    I was initially trained as a science writer and that has a similar approach of cutting away extraneous information that is not relevant or adds nothing. However, what is removed there may be different and the objectivity required for science writing contrasts with the personal becoming universal of the Zen approach.

    In Zazen, we sit with each moment, complete and full and Zen writing can reflect this, drawing on sense experience to point to that fullness, invoking the colours, scents and feelings of a time and place. Zen is also linked with the natural world and its seasons and I think it would be a rare Zen work that did not allude to this in any way at all.

    Anyway, good question, Hensho! I do not consider my answer to be in any way definitive but are merely the thoughts that come to mind in response.

    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.

  4. #4
    I have read Writing Down the Bones a few times. I highly recommend it.

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    I have read Writing Down the Bones a few times. I highly recommend it.

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    I liked the book too.



    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  6. #6
    I have the Writing Down the Bones in paperback and Kindle format, but I haven't gone through the entire book yet. I think Natalie Goldberg coined the term "freewriting." I have done a lot of freewriting. For a long time I wrote 750 words (equivalent to three pages) a day of freewriting, as suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way, although I couldn't bring myself to do it first thing when I got up in the morning.

    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.

  7. #7
    Come to think of it, Writing Down the Bones was my first introduction to Zen practice, though not a book about Zen practice. I picked up the book on a whim, looking for something that might inspire me. At the time I was dropping out of college and feeling like I should still keep up with my goal of becoming a writer in some capacity. I was all caught up in a mishmash of Paganism, New Age and esoteric Yoga practices at the time. Natalie Goldburg kept dropping the word Zen, and I thought, why not look into this and add it to my mix? I found Treeleaf very shortly afterward, and somehow over the next two years dropped everything else. I had also been reading a huge volume of collected essays by J. Krishnamurti, and I think that contributed to my shift as well, although also not strictly about Zen practice.

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  8. #8

    ARTS: The Craft of Writing

    I picked up Writing Down the Bones for help with with an autobiography. It was very helpful and I actually wrote an autobiography and self published it. "Almost President" was the title as that had been my grandiose delusion. I had it online and got 1/2 million hits before I took it down. It was about 15-20 years ago when self disclosure of mood disorders was more risque for doctors. We have come a long way and people talk about psychiatic difficulties much more freely nowdays.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    Last edited by Jishin; 01-29-2021 at 05:57 AM.

  9. #9
    For me, the writer who has most informed my Zen practice is actually a poet: Wallace Stevens. I was really into Stevens in graduate school but I had no thought of Zen in those years. I don't think Stevens did either, but I rereading him now, I find him exceedingly Zen.

    "It was how the sun came shining into his room:
    To be without a description of to be..."

    ...And so many other passages helped to form my thinking both as a writer and as a person. His work is part of me now, merged with many other artists and thinkers and experiences, inseparable from how I think and encounter the world today.

    Gassho,
    Hensho

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

  10. #10
    This discussion of influences leads me to ask: What does it mean to you to be a Buddhist / Zen writer? Do you identify yourself that way? How, if at all, have the principles of Zen influenced your work?

    Gassho,
    Hensho

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

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Hensho View Post
    This discussion of influences leads me to ask: What does it mean to you to be a Buddhist / Zen writer? Do you identify yourself that way? How, if at all, have the principles of Zen influenced your work?

    Gassho,
    Hensho

    sat
    That's an interesting question. I don't consider myself a Buddhist or Zen writer. But the subject matter of Buddhism certainly shows up in my poetry at times.

    I'm not sure the principles of Zen have directly influenced me as a writer. I think where the influence has come is through reading and writing haiku. That sense of direct experience in haiku, the way so much can be conveyed with the right image(s) and precisely chosen words.

    Thanks for setting up this thread and asking such interesting questions.

    Gassho, Jim
    ST/LaH

    Sent from my SM-T510 using Tapatalk
    No matter how much zazen we do, poor people do not become wealthy, and poverty does not become something easy to endure.
    Kōshō Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought

  12. #12
    In my fiction, I don't find I write about specifically Zen or Buddhist themes, but Zen practice helps me look at things in different perspectives, to get into the skin of different characters.

    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
    Onkai:

    I've been away for a little while, so please excuse the late reply. I've been thinking about what you said. I see Buddhist themes in my work (from even before I began practice), but maybe it is Zen practice itself that is the deeper influence these days. Maybe it's the sitting that brings clarity of thought. Perhaps it is a different way of seeing and knowing.

    Gassho,
    Hensho

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

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