Writing fiction


I learned to meditate when I was in college.  I think a lot of kids learned back in the day,  Perhaps they still do.  Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  Anyway, I learned to meditate when I was in college.  And I was always curious about people who told me that they could only meditate if they were in a quiet place.  Because it seemed to me that the essence of meditating was that it didn’t really matter where you were or what was going on around you.  Meaning no disrespect to my friends, it  seemed to me that if you needed a quiet place to meditate, you weren’t really meditating.

Forty years later, I recognize that I may have been a bit condescending about other people’s meditation, but  somehow it still seems fundamentally true.  These days, I feel much the same way about writing fiction.  I find it difficult to relate to writers who tell me how they need a particular set of circumstances in order to write.  Their desk has to be just so.  A Brandenburg Concerto has to playing in the background.

When I am writing well, I can write anywhere.  I can leave a scene mid-sentence, return eight hours later and pick up where I left off.  And when I am not writing well, it really doesn’t matter.

To be brutally honest, since my last book came out in 2009, I have not been writing well.  I’ve been writing, but nothing that gets my blood to boiling.  And if it doesn’t excite me as the writer, it surely won’t excite you as the reader.  Until perhaps six weeks ago.  Something clicked.  Perhaps it was a lesson from the Bodhisattva.  In the last six weeks, I’ve written some 44,000 words.  Many of them are good words.  A few of them might be great words.

I still have to finish, but it may be the best thing I’ve ever written.  We shall see.



10 thoughts on “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

  1. so very good to hear. the juice is Flowing. yay, you! (that was my ‘chant’, too. but i condescendingly dropped it. i think it might be time to pick it up again.)


  2. the essence of a good writer is the power of concentration regardless of the milieu. when words flow, then then there is nothing around you, except you and the written thoughts.


  3. In one of my favorite youth fiction books, The Mudhen goes through a phase where he takes a correspondence course on writing and starts throwing around words like denouement. At one point when his roommates are making too much noise, he says, “I am not Harriet Beecher Stowe!” and throws the pages he has been working on into the fireplace. Apparently HBS wrote Uncle Tom at a table in the busy kitchen of her house.


      1. Oh no. Harriet Beecher Stowe, stephenie Meyers, whatevs. Writing fiction while constantly interrupted by children is like performing surgery while watching a football game. Sure, some people might have done it. But, 1) do you want to be them?! And 2) do you want to be their patient?!

        But as to the rest of it, excepting children, I agree.


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