Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tear Off and Enlarge

Zestful Blog Post #75

Whenever I prepare to do a writing workshop, I feel I should start by having everybody meditate or relax quietly for a few minutes, to clear and make ready our minds and hearts. But I've never done it, because I know some people are turned off by such novelties. And I don't want to turn anybody off. Actually, I just now realized that I want to avoid the mild emotional hassle of perceiving someone's rejection of the practice—the heavy sigh, the muttered comment.

Wrong, I've decided. This is my show and I should run it as I see fit, and if you're with me, you're with me. Writing is art, art is mysterious, and to achieve exceptional results,

you MUST tap into something beyond technique. [photo of Roy Gussow / Jose de Rivera sculpture by ES]

This decision was reinforced the other day when I read a profile of the painter Chris Ofili in the New Yorker by Calvin Tomkins. One of Ofili's art teachers, Bill Clark, had his students lie down and be with their thoughts for a while at the start of class. That's cool, but what's even cooler is Clark's Zen-master approach of bewildering his students by assigning seemingly outrageous work, like tearing off three-quarters of a piece of work, throwing that out, then enlarging the piece that remains.

Why not try this with writing—say, a short story? Slice it up, even crudely, by throwing out the first seven and a half pages of the ten you've got—and create a whole story from what remains. Or pick the middle hunk to keep, and go from there.

The point of the practice is to shake up and thus free your heartbrain, so you can make artistic leaps and bounds that may lead you to something amazing.

Anybody game?

Now for some writing-related news.

An outstanding writing coach who also happens to be my friend, Jamie Morris, has supercharged and expanded her business. Check it out via her new web site: The blurb from me is heartfelt.

Another of my friends, Lori L. Lake, has recently founded a publishing company, Launch Point Press. I've contributed a story for an upcoming anthology. Lori is a terrific person and businesswoman.

More next week.

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  1. saw your guest post "How to Develop Any Idea..." over at Writer's Digest and Loved It!! Thank you for the great inspiration and information. Loved this post too...guess this means I'm your newest blog follower. Thanks again.

    1. Hey there Char, welcome! Very glad you liked the post at WD. And thanks for signing up to get Zestful Writing. We look forward to your comments.


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