I think I already told you part of this, so bear with me if I repeat myself. I started dabbling with Zen in high school: our teacher was convinced the Ministry-approved curriculum for History and Philosophy was limited and incomplete, and so he assigned us to write essays on subjects that were not part of the program. I already had a passion for the east, and so I chose to do a paper on Zen philosophy. My teacher provided a few titles, and then I discovered Thomas Hoover’s Zen Culture, and I was thoroughly fascinated. Incidentally, Hoover’s book can be downloaded for free – together with many of his other fine fiction and non-fiction books – from the author’s web page. My essay got top marks, my schoolmates concluded I was even more of a crackpot and a geek than I appeared to be, and I started what was to be an on-off interest for the rest of my life.
The crackpot part is significant – there was another thing I did, back in high school, that marked me as a weirdo. I wrote stories. They were very poor stories, mostly fantasy and science fiction, hammered out on my mother’s Olivetti typewriter, but I liked it as much as I liked reading. Possibly more: because I’d be able to write stories I did not find around, and I would have loved to read. It was a start. My schoolmates looked at me and shook their heads. Not all of them – a few were quite supportive – and one of them even said “You’ll end up being a real writer.” I wished I had his faith in my skills.
There this meme doing the rounds – and yes, I already told you that I can’t see why they call’em memes, but anyway…
The idea is to list five (or ten, depending on what version you find) women writers that have somehow influenced you and your world-view.
And there’s a lot of people listing fiction writers – and indeed I think I will do a women fictioneers post, maybe next week.
Right now, though, I think I’ll do my own list of authors that were and are indispensable to me… and I’ll focus on nonfiction.
But I think I’ll do six – just to be my usual wayward self.
And as a bonus, I’ll also give you a book title to check out.
I think my friend Claire over at Scribblings calls it free writing, while I call it writing practice, because I discovered it as a form of Zen practice in a wonderful little (but great!) book called Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg.
Yea, I mention it quite often.
It’s one of the two books that got me back to writing when I was in university.
Anyway, writing practice or free writing, no matter what you call it, is one of those things writers sometimes do, basically setting a timer and writing whatever comes to mind.
How it is done?
Just like that.
You sit in a place you like, pick the writing tools you prefer (pens, pencils, loose paper, copybooks, keyboard and software… anything goes) and then you write what comes to you.
As simple – or hard – as that. Continue reading →