Friday, December 28, 2007

A Few More Words of Zen

The Chinese are a wise people. We're not talking the government control-freak Chinese people here, those folks have some mental issues, but simple words put into complex thought make wise the everyday Joes. Or, in this case the everyday Lings, Pings and Taos.

Look at the examples below and you’ll see what I mean:

Enough shovels of earth -- a mountain.
Enough pails of water -- a river.

I love this. And, I think it easily translates not only to everyday life, but to writing as well:

Enough letters -- a paragraph.
Enough paragraphs -- a manuscript.

Although some of the beauty of the original passage is lost in my pathetic translation, you get my drift.

Here's another:

Before Zen -- cut wood, carry water.
After Zen -- cut wood, carry water.

I take this to mean keep on keeping on with life's everyday tasks. So, how does this relate to writing you ask? I'm so happy you asked! Let's replace the word Zen with the word publication, and make some other slight modifications. Ready? Okay.

Before publication -- sit butt in chair and write.
After publication -- sit butt in chair and write.

You could also replace the word Zen with the words fame or fortune.

Ah yes, such a wise race the Chinese people. And man do they make good dumplings too.


Genene said...

I'd never thought of Zen quite like this, Danita! But you're right -- it makes perfect sense.

I'm still working on promotional "stuff" through the end of the year, then will start edits on book #2. Maybe Zen thoughts would keep me focused and not be overwhelmed!

Danita Cahill said...

Wow, Genene, you were up late, and now I'm up early.

Good luck with the rest of your promotional stuff, and edits. I'm still plodding along on edits myself, although haven't had a chance to work on them much over Christmas. Thank you for opening the discussion. I was just trying to -- duh -- remember how to edit a post because I didn't add any questions at the end to give people something to respond to. So here goes:

Do you have any favoirte words of Zen, or a well-loved quote? I got a new flat-screen monitor from my DH for Chirstmas and off my old dinosaur monitor, I tore down all the ragged quotes I'd clipped and taped along the edge. I'm badly in need of some new inspirational material.

Karen Duvall said...

Good Friday morning to you all! I just said goodbye to my daughter and her boyfriend, and my grandson, as they head their way to Elk Lake for the weekend to frolic in the snow and ski at Bachelor. I'm so jealous. 8^)

Promo stuff, Genene? Shudders. But you'll have fun with it. There's so much cool stuff you can do.

One of my favorite quotes is: "Happiness comes through a door you didn't know you'd left open."

Elisabeth Naughton said...

My CP sent me a the "Writer's Little Instruction Book" for Christmas which is full of inspirational and motivational quotes. I've been skimming it, so I'm going to share the ones that jumped out most to me:

Write what won't let you sleep in the middle of the night.

If you don't return calls from your muse, there's a chance she'll stop calling.

Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink Alcohol.
--Steve Martin

Writers make sentences. Wanna-be's make excuses.

Your favorite piece of writing will always be your next one.

Alice Sharpe said...

Eli, that last one is so true! And I love Steve Martin's.

Your zen was delightful, Danita. I don't have any favorite quotes, though I appreciate seeing the ones people respond to.

I think writing seems so mysterious to us because it comes from -- well, where does it come from? Our heads and hearts? So it pretty much comes from nowhere if you see what I mean. A cabinet maker needs wood, a gardener needs plants, both require a vision to achieve greatness, but an artist creates from some mystical place, conjuring "life" out of sound or words or paint. Whether you are good or bad at it, it remains sort of magical.

I have no idea how any of that relates to zen. So, for now, I am going to follow the wisdom of our local zen master and "After publication -- sit butt in chair and write."

Danita Cahill said...

Karen, glad you had a fun time with your family for Christmas. Why not go join them for the weekend? Didn't they invite you? Give me their cell and I'll talk some sense into those kids....ha!

I like your quote. Thanks.

Danita Cahill said...

Elisabeth, I like "Write what won't let you sleep..." Perfect for me, one who dreams in novel vision.

What a great-sounding little book. Nice gift.

Danita Cahill said...

Heck, Alice, I think a gardener is like a writer -- only tiny seeds are required to grow something beautiful. Ever seen the size of lobelia seeds? Like dust. But toxic enough to kill. That's mysterious.

Thank you for dubbing me the Zen Master. Mind if I capitalize it like that and use it on a resume? HA!

Alice Sharpe said...

Danita, I happily give you permission to use Zen Master in all future resumes. It has a nice ring.

I will not, however, give you lobelia seeds. They may be fine as powder, but they do exist. They can be seen, they can even be weighed, they have substance. Words cannot be seen unless printed, ideas cannot be weighed by any conventional means, and stories do not need anything but a voice to be shared. But like lobelia seeds, they can cause great harm.

Paty Jager said...

Great quotes and great thoughts all! I have company until Wednesday so I may be responding late to blogs and e-mails.

Wish I could think of something Zen like to say, but alas, I'm just trying to keep my sanity with a 18 month old who likes the acoustics in this house! LOL

Danita Cahill said...

Okay, okay Alice. I bow down to your greater wisdom on the lobelia seeds analogy. You make a fine point and a strong arguement. Were you on a debate team in high school?

Thanks, though, for the Zen Master title. I will cherish it. ha!

Danita Cahill said...

We'll look for you late, Paty.

Enjoy the yelling toddler and your other company too.