Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic: A Reflection
The Buddha in the Attic reads like a meditation. Like a chant. Like a chronicle of the collective lives of the many Japanese women who emigrated as mail order brides to California in the 1900’s to marry Japanese men already landed in the U.S. It’s not a novel as I’ve come to understand novels. Yet
Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s haunting Western
The genius of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is how starkly the book details its violence while leaving so much to the reader’s imagination. It tells the story of the Kid, a runaway who joins up with the barbarous Glanton gang on its trek into 1840’s Mexican-United States border country in search of Apache scalps that
Plot Twists: 10 Rules for Twisting your Story’s Plot
Every story deserves a Plot Twist. But what makes an effective twist for your novel or short story? I’ve been looking into this in my own work, and have come up with the following list. If you want to understand plot twists, tell a joke. Both for the laughs it gets, and to understand the plot twist in its barest form. Jokes have two parts—setup and punchline. Punchlines pack
Good Karma Book Critiques: 9 Lessons
Writing book reviews is good karma. Do it. Authors enjoy the feedback, and appreciate the possibility your review may just entice someone to check out their book. You don’t need to start a blog or land a steady gig at some national publication. Instead, focus on two well-read sources: Amazon and Goodreads.
Lessons for Licking Writer’s Block
Sometimes we suffer writer’s block.
First, what is Writer’s Block? It’s that block of time we’ve scheduled to write, but we’re not writing.
Why are we not writing?
Writing, like meditation, is largely an exercise of the mind. And any exercise requires flexibility. Writer’s block comes when our minds tighten with expectation.
What Does the Buddha Write About?
When she writes, what does the Buddha write about? We know the Buddha encourages us to experience the world strictly as it is, without the overlay of our story. But writing is all about story, isn’t it? Isn’t that what makes it engaging? We know the Buddha tells us to focus on the moment. That is
Writing Like a Buddha: Deepening Focus
The purpose of Writing Like a Buddha is to develop a reverberation between the writer and the material he is writing. This is the development of non-duality; the integration of writer and writing into one shared experience. In our Developing Focus exercise, one of the ways we experienced this was through rhythm. Rhythm is
Writing Like a Buddha: A Koan of Inspiration
Sometimes I get stuck when writing. Call it Writer’s block. That’s when I read a koan. Like the poem Providence from The Really Short Poems of A.R. Ammons. PROVIDENCE To stay bright as if just thought of earth requires only that nothing stay. A good koan says a lot with its words and its
Writing Like a Buddha: Learning Focus
The following exercise was inspired by John Daido Loori’s book The Zen of Creativity. When we speak about Buddhist meditation, we are not limiting it to time on the cushion. Meditation is a means of opening to the world so that we experience it, rather than simply observe it. The emphasis is sharing whatever there