Thursday, August 5, 2010

Quotes from "The Art of Writing", Part I, "Process"

I dug out one of my favorite Chinese classics: The Art of Writing: Teachings of the Chinese Masters, translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping. Here are some quotes about the writing process:

From: "The Art of Writing" by Lu Ji (Taoist poet, 261-303 CE)

Chapter 3: "Process"

Search for the words and sphere of thought,
then seek the proper order;
release their shining forms
and tap images to hear how they sing.
Now leaves grow along a branching thought.
Now trace a current to its source.
Bring the hidden into light
or to form the complex from simplicity.
Animals shake at the tiger's changing pattern
and birds ripple off when a dragon is seen;
some words belong together
and others don't join, like ragged teeth, 
but when you're clear and calm
your spirit finds true words.
With heaven and earth contained in your head,
nothing escapes the pen in your hand.
It's hard to get started at first,
painful like talking with cracked lips,
but words will flow with ink in the end.
Essence holds content as the trunk lifts the tree;
language is patterned into branches, leaves and fruit.
Now words and content match
like the mood on your face---
smile when you're happy
or sigh when your heart hurts.
Sometimes you can improvise easily.
Sometimes you can only bite the brush and think.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

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