Zen Writing and Feeling Lost in the Exploration…

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.–E.L. Doctorow

I have to say, those are the exact right words that explain the space I’m in right now. I’m in the exploration. There are lots of different ways that this book can go, and each decision heads it in a completely different direction.

In some ways it reminds me of this thing a friend and I used to do back in college. We’d get in the car with our sodas and a couple bags of chips or whatever. We’d make sure that the tank was full. And we’d just head out and zen drive our way through the afternoon.

Sure…we had a map. But the point wasn’t to know exactly where we were going. It was to experience the drive…to see the world…and to find new and unusual things that we were certain none of our peers would see of the state we’d made our adoptive home for the time being.

During one of those drives, I drove along what had once been a ridge runner’s road…those old roads that lead from the still to wherever and would be driven, at great risk, by folks wantin’ to run the moonshine out ahead of the tax folks.

That road had been paved…sorta…and ended at the end of the ridge road with someone’s house. He was a pretty nice guy and pointed us in the direction of yet another cool sight–a bar carved into the side of the mountain.

Anyhow, zen driving allowed us to let go of everything that was bothering us–school, guys, hangovers, jobs, what have you–and gave us the space to just be and enjoy the road…the air…the scenery and explore parts of ourselves as well as the state in which we lived. We did this with a sense of adventure…a sense of wonder…and a feeling of walking driving Zazen…of  attaining enlightenment.

At present, I feel as though I’ve lost that sense and am too wrapped up in the details. Even as I get more written, it feels like there’s something big missing within the writing…maybe within me. A hole where there’d once been that feeling I’d get when I was zen driving. I keep looking for the map. I keep trying to develop the map–an outline of what I want to happen…when, where, and why.

And as I do more and more of that, I feel like I’m losing something else for the sake of better story control.

Maybe it’s time to put the map down and just drive…


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    • kredwyn on March 5, 2008 at 06:43

    I wish I wasn’t feeling so lost these days…

    • pico on March 5, 2008 at 07:20

    put the writing away for a while and try a different medium.  It doesn’t have to be something you’re good at, but try telling your story in a way that doesn’t involve words.  Sketch out a scene you really like, or paint a setting you’ve written about.  Try to find some music that really matches a mood you’ve described, or if you know how to play an instrument, improvise at it for a while.  Clear your mind from words for a bit, and maybe something unexpected will leap at you!

    Or if you don’t want to abandon words yet: focus even stronger on the words as such.  Think about language, and sounds, and shapes of words, and how they interact.  Play with them: what happens when you rearrange words you’ve already used?  (There are oulipo games that help generate plots by words alone).

    • brobin on March 5, 2008 at 14:33

    the point of a journey is not to arrive.  

    The exhilaration of the journey itself, with all the new experiences to see, feel, taste, smell and add to your previous bank of experiences is what makes the trip worthwhile in the first place.

    Keep experiencing and enjoy the journey.  Who knows where it might take you.

  1. with exactly this same dilemma or stalemate or what ever it is. I pulled out a book I read awhile ago and I really recommend it. It is written by a dancer but is not about any one medium but about the act of creation itself and makes you look at it from a different perspective then the box you live in. It helps you look at other means of approach, as well as the overall work as part of your life.

    The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

    Learn it and use it for life


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