Monday, December 22, 2008

Zen and the Art of Not Writing

Sit quietly at your desk. Arrange in front of you a pile of blank, unlined paper and your favorite pens or pencils, all freshly sharpened. (I prefer the Dixon Ticonderogas, or fountain pens, the cheap kind that bleed all over my fingers.) Breathe deeply. Let the mind be as blank as the paper. Do not think of a word. Do not write a word. Know: the word is but a blemish on the serene white face of the paper. Do not allow a single word to appear.

In this way, many poets have completed entire manuscripts in spite of their efforts to master their craft.

(It's true. The year my friend, Claire, said she wasn't writing another poem ever, and she wasn't sending out her work; and she esp. would never ever enter another book competition, she won a huge book contest and a Pushcart.)


Rick said...

Beautiful, Nin.

Lyle Daggett said...

For many years I wrote with finepoint felt-tip pens, till they disappeared from the face of the earth a few years back. These days I write with ballpoint pens, the roller-ball ones. I need something that flows smoothly over the paper when I write.

Vladimir Mayakovsky (in "How to Make Verse") recommended carrying two pens at all times, so that if the one you're writing with runs out of ink you have another one handy, and you don't have to go hunting for a pen and so lose the trail of what you were writing.

In pictures of Mayakovsky, you can see two pens in the pocket of his jacket.

Ever since I read that, I've carried two pens everywhere. (Actually more than two -- I have several in my backpack always -- but always two in my shirt pocket.)