Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rumi on the Writing Process

From Unfold Your Own Myth: (Coleman Barks' Translation)

But don't be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.

Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you've grown,

Start walking toward Shams...

As a writer I have to take that to simply mean START. BEGIN. Park butt in chair and begin to put characters on the screen or ink on paper. If I don't start walking toward Shams, nothing happens. I can wish to be in Shams and I can wish this novel would simply write itself, but that isn't the way it plays out. I (Yo, mi, Jim Pat, Jimbo, James, yours truly) have to start the process. There is a Chinese saying that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." I'll just start walking. Like Fats Domino. But this close to the Super Bowl, that might sound partisan...

We have opened you.

Then the novel begins to write itself, begins taking its own direction. At that moment I can feel the wings I've been growing without my awareness begin to lift me higher. From this vantage point I see the curvature of the earth, hear my own heartbeat, understand the whispers of God.

Words and music. Oh yeah. Just make it to the Faulkner Society Words and Music get-down in New Orleans, and you'll know what I'm talkin 'bout. William Faulkner? Who dat?

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