Guest Post: Zen and the Art of Writing

Aron Anthony is a freelance Graphic Designer, writer, and yoga instructor. He has written several short stories and two books, which received a number of impressive rejection letters. His third book, it on it’s second editing for publication. Lost Gods is a dark humorous sci-fi/fantasy adventure. A re-telling of Olympian mythology, Lost Gods is the story of two brothers, separated at birth who must come together to overthrow their tyrannical father, Don Cronus, a notorious CEO, Mafia Boss and possibly a God.

Interested readers and critiques should contact the author for a free manuscript.
Taonow@gmail.com


Today’s Blue Ink Alchemy guest topic is Zen and the art of writing.

It is said that Zen is unknowable, it cannot be defined. Yet oddly enough Webster’s has managed to define it.

Zen (noun): An approach to religion, arising from Buddhism, that seeks religious enlightenment by meditation in which there is no consciousness of self.

Note : Deliberately irrational statements are sometimes used in Zen to jar persons into realizing the limits of the common uses of the intellect. One well-known example is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Sounds like a pretty good definition to me. Did those monks I lived with at the Zen monastery lie to me? I wouldn’t put it past them, a bunch of grumpy bath-robe wearing bald Asians. No sense of humor whatsoever.

Zen

The first part, I’m sure you have all heard before; no consciousness of self. I know it sounds like some kind of new age hippy thing; drop off your ego, expand your mind. But if you’re to succeed in any creative endeavor this is pretty important. Trust me, if you’re a professional artist and you still have an ego, it will quickly get crushed. That’s because art is subjective. This is one of the key principals of Zen. Every point of view is extremely narrow, and the same thing that one person thinks is brilliant another will see as utter crap.

The point is that the only way to stay sane is to not be attached to one view point or one particular idea. I once read a book when I was seventeen called Staying Sane in the Arts.
Honestly I have no idea what the book was about and the fact that I was reading something about trying to stay sane at seventeen probably says it all. However the implication is that it’s hard to stay sane in the arts. Most of the time you have no external validation or structure and one thing that seems brilliant, can quickly seem like drivel when you wake up, hung over, in Tijuana, and the only fan of your writing is a 300 peso prostitute named Jose.
This is the heart of Zen. You need the awareness and flexibility to adapt to the strangest situations that life and your art will inevitably take you.

This brings us to the second part of the equation. Using seemingly irrational devices to jar a person into realizing the limits of the intellect. What does that mean? Again I have no idea. Fortunately Webster’s gives the example of a Koan, or Zen riddle; what is the sound of one hand clapping. I don’t know what that means either and even if I did I’d have to kill you. Those monks are pretty uptight about that kind of thing.

Essentially the idea is to take seemingly unrelated ideas and turn them into a tool to enlighten. If this sounds familiar, that’s a common technique of writers. Take some random ideas and try to make a story from them. Let’s try this, shall we? I thought of the first three articles I came across today.

While I was waiting for a video to load I had to watch this horrible commercial from AT&T. Perhaps I’m the only one that finds it disturbing but a video depicting the world becoming covered by a shining bronze colored substance may not the best idea when we have an oil spill in the gulf threatening to do the same thing. But I digress. Now we have our problem.
The second item of interest was the androgynous person Justin Bieber, apparently a pop-idol among both twelve year old girls and lesbians. He unwisely had a contest to see where his fans would send him on his world tour date.

Justin Bieber

Those savvy fans have decided his first stop should be North Korea. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31749_162-20009827-10391698.html Since North Korea doesn’t have internet access I would presume that the dictator Kim Jong-il is behind this nefarious scheme to lure Bieber to North Korea and keep him as his lesbian slave. One can only hope. Now we have our antagonist and protagonist, though for the life of me I can’t figure out which is which. A certain amount of ambiguity is always best when developing your characters.

Kim Jong Il

The final element is a story about Paul the Psychic Octopuss, who is now an impressive 7-1 with his predictions of World Cup Soccer outcomes.

Paul the Psychic Octopuss

Paul can act as the side kick to Bieber, and a wise advisor.

I don’t know about you but I’d read that story. Anything could happen, who knows maybe you will write it. Feel free to use my idea and post your stories! I can’t tell you where to go with this, but i do know how the story should end. So I will leave you this Koan, a Zen story if you will. I’m sure you will agree, this says it all.

Justin looked over the dark waters covered with oil. The cities burned across the horizon and walls of black smoke reached into the sky, blotting out the sun. He had escaped, but at what price? Kim Jong had been true to his word, he’d spared no living thing in his mad war to return Justin to his loving embrace. Justin knew what Helen of Troy must of felt like as she looked at the smoking ruins of the armies that had fought for her release. History repeats itself.

He felt Paul move a golden lock of hair from his eyes and wipe a smoke streaked tear from his face with a gentle caress of his tentacle. Justin reached up and patted the Octopus, perched on his head.

“You were right Paul,” Justin sniffed. “You were right about everything. But then, you always are.”

1 Comment

  1. I confess. I’d read that story, simply for the weird factor. That ending is priceless.

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