to write or not to write…

How can you find peace in the world? By lying still. You
don’t do anything, don’t try to purify it, otherwise you will
muddle it more. Just lie down on the bank, wait. By lying
still it becomes clear on its own accord. Don’t be worried
about transforming the world; don’t be worried about changing
others. Who are you? And who has sent you on this mission to
change others? Everybody is directly related to the divine.
Why are you there to interfere? You just sit silently.

–Osho—

I think this is a very important quote – it will take some time for me to digest it – maybe the rest of my life. Right now I don’t feel like relapsing into silence (all day every day).

I’m obsessed with writing, it kind of grips me and does not let me go until I pen it down. Sometimes I write useless things and even worse send it to the wrong people, but there have been times when people have gotten back to me saying that they’ve found the (“my”?) words really unique and inspirational and so on. Several people from various forums eg company newsgroup have surprised me at random times saying they’re my fan and have been enjoying my posts. One of the main purpose of putting up the weblog is to publish all the posts I’ve put up in the ng, I think there have been times I’ve unwittingly ended up writting some possibly extraordinary things.

One thing is I’m often as much a reader of what I write as anybody else, they surprise me. Neale Donald Walsch in his book Conversations With God (not that I read it cover to cover) – says he’s just an instrument of some other power. Its only a vague analogy, I don’t hear any voices or any such thing.

But on the other hand, at a certain point, I get attached to my own words and my ego takes over, and its very very subtle to know at which point who’s in control! (personally, I’m certain it would be a waste of time when I write when I’m in control) I end up becoming hopelessly verbose. I think it’s a question of constant experimentation to know when to stop, what to cut out, when to save as a draft and not send, when to delete the entire draft, and most importantly, when to not to blindly react by writing whenever I feel like writing.

Writing is like constructing intricate jewelry using words. It’s a very very expensive hobby – in terms of time – and its very hard to know when its worth it and when its not. So far I’ve concluded experimentation – trial and error – is the only way.

If I think about it, inspiration is what I find in books by Douglas Adams or Feynman or Bach. They really make me happy and give me a different perspective, and help me defamilarise myself with familiar things in my own life (which I think is the essence of what is familiarly known as Zen).

But the thing is when I’d first read HHGTTG in college, I found it a very funny book but nothing much beyond that. But when I happened to read it again the second time a few years later, it suddenly hit me that he’s expressed concepts of fundamental human psychology and universal principles in his writing! But the book is the same! So maybe its not really reading the book itself that made me understand things better.

I would owe my own evolution (hopefully, and relative only to myself in the past) more to sitting in silence with a non-judgemental awareness than reading or writing things.

If I look back, other than being fun, I feel the purpose of my writing – other than a mode of self-expression – at times may also be (just occurred to me now actually) to shout out to the world that there’s more to life than the obvious.

Wrt the quote, which says…

Don’t be worried about transforming the world; don’t be worried about changing others.

…the fact is that when I start off to write, its not to transform or change anything but just to speak my mind. But sometimes, it may end up with a slight subtle twist unknown to me, where I actually start thinking from a reader – am I writing something interesting or not? Worse still is writing with the idea of creating an impression or trying to tell somebody something – forgetting the timeless truth that each person has his own way of learning, and his own time for it as well. And what makes sense to one dosen’t necessarily suit another.

Once I had read somewhere that this is a common situation for writers (who aren’t compelled to write as a business) in general. Needless to say, this is the situation when writing ends up becoming a colossal waste of time – and the best solution is to not write at all for quite a while… until the mind quietens again. 🙂

11-Mar-2005
Had written to Paulo Coelho for permission to publish some excerpts from his site on my blog that were relevant to me, which a representative approved, and also sent me this article link where he explains what he feels about writing! 😀

In search of my island by Paulo Coelho

[Not that he has read this post, but] I felt as if he is reassuring me about my own hesitation towards writing 🙂

7 Responses to “to write or not to write…”

  1. msanjay Says:

    Being a writer is sharing your love through books.
    – Paulo Coelho

  2. msanjay Says:

    This is an amazing article by Paulo Coelho. He talks about what he feels about writing. Though my writing’s mainly limited to personal journals, I found several parts of it stunningly relevant to myself – probably any of you might too. Or maybe this article might make you too consider writing as a hobby… 😉

    For those who are short on time or inclination, some excerpts here… else skip to the whole article below in the next comment.

    source: “Warrior of the Light, a http://www.paulocoelho.com.br publication.”

    ———————-
    terrifying scenarios flash through my mind, such as spending the rest of my
    life talking about past successes,

    ———————-

    I spend days and nights
    describing what I see, wondering why I’m doing this, telling myself that
    it’s really not worth the pain and the effort, that I don’t need to prove
    anything to anyone, that I’ve got what I wanted and far more than I ever
    dreamed of having.

    ———————-

    writing is getting lost at sea. It’s discovering your own untold
    story and trying to share it with others. It’s realising, when you show it
    to people you have never seen, what is in your own soul.

    ———————-

    When I used to read biographies of writers, I always thought that
    when they said: “The book writes itself, the writer is just the typist”,
    they were simply trying to make their profession seem more interesting. I
    know now that this is absolutely true, no one knows why the current took
    them to that particular island and not to the one they wanted to reach.

    ———————-

    Once I heard an interviewer ask Paul McCartney: “Could you sum up
    the Beatles’ message in one sentence?” Tired of hearing the same question
    myself, I assumed McCartney would give some ironic response, after all,
    given the complexity of human beings, how can anyone possibly sum up a whole
    body of work in a few words?
    But Paul said: “Yes, I can.” And he went on: “All you need is
    love. Do you want me to say more?”
    No, said the interviewer, he didn’t. There was nothing more to be
    said.

    ———————-

  3. msanjay Says:

    source: “Warrior of the Light, a http://www.paulocoelho.com.br publication.”

    In search of my island

    Looking around at the crowd gathered for my book-signing at a megastore in the Champs-Elysées, I thought: how many of these people will have had the same experiences that I have described in my books?
    Very few. Perhaps one or two. Even so, most of them would identify with what was in them.
    Writing is one of the most solitary activities in the world. Once every two years, I sit down in front of the computer, gaze out on the unknown sea of my soul, and see a few islands – ideas that have developed and which are ripe to be explored. Then I climb into my boat – called The Word – and set out for the nearest island. On the way, I meet strong currents, winds and storms, but I keep rowing, exhausted, knowing that I have drifted away from my chosen course and that the island I was trying to reach is no longer on my horizon.
    I can’t turn back, though, I have to continue somehow or else I’ll be lost in the middle of the ocean; at that point, a series of terrifying scenarios flash through my mind, such as spending the rest of my life talking about past successes, or bitterly criticising new writers, simply because I no longer have the courage to publish new books. Wasn’t my dream to be a writer? Then I must continue creating sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and go on writing until I die, and not allow myself to get caught in such traps as success or failure. Otherwise, what meaning does my life have? Being able to buy an old mill in the south of France and tending my garden? Giving lectures instead, because it’s easier to talk than to write? Withdrawing from the world in a calculated, mysterious way, in order to create a legend that will deprive me of many pleasures?
    Shaken by these alarming thoughts, I find a strength and a courage I didn’t know I had: they help me to venture into an unknown part of my soul. I let myself be swept along by the current and finally anchor my boat at the island I was being carried towards. I spend days and nights describing what I see, wondering why I’m doing this, telling myself that it’s really not worth the pain and the effort, that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, that I’ve got what I wanted and far more than I ever dreamed of having.
    I notice that I go through the same process as I did when writing my first book: I wake up at nine o’clock in the morning, ready to sit down at my computer immediately after breakfast; then I read the newspapers, go for a walk, visit the nearest bar for a chat, come home, look at the computer, discover that I need to make several phone calls, look at the computer again, by which time lunch is ready, and I sit eating and thinking that I really ought to have started writing at eleven o’clock, but that now I need a nap; I wake at five in the afternoon, finally turn on the computer, go to check my e-mails, then remember that I’ve destroyed my Internet connection; I could go to a place ten minutes away where I can get on-line, but couldn’t I, just to free my conscience from these feelings of guilt, couldn’t I at least write for half an hour?
    I begin out of a feeling of duty, but suddenly “the thing” takes hold of me and I can’t stop. The maid calls me for supper and I ask her not to interrupt me; an hour later, she calls me again; I’m hungry, but I must write just one more line, one more sentence, one more page. By the time I sit down at the table, the food is cold, I gobble it down and go back to the computer – I am no longer in control of where I place my feet, the island is being revealed to me, I am being propelled along its paths, finding things I have never even thought or dreamed of. I drink a cup of coffee, and another, and at two o’clock in the morning I finally stop writing, because my eyes are tired.
    I go to bed, spend another hour making notes of things to use in the next paragraph and which always prove completely useless – they serve only to empty my mind so that sleep can come. I promise myself that the next morning, I’ll start at eleven o’clock prompt. And the following day, the same thing happens – the walk, the conversations, lunch, a nap, the feelings of guilt, then irritation at myself for destroying the Internet connection, until, at last, I make myself sit down and write the first page…
    When I wrote The Zahir, the main character says exactly the same thing: writing is getting lost at sea. It’s discovering your own untold story and trying to share it with others. It’s realising, when you show it to people you have never seen, what is in your own soul. In the book, a famous writer on spiritual matters, who believes he has everything, loses the thing that is most precious to him: love. I have always wondered what would happen to a man if he had no one to dream about, and now I am answering that question for myself.
    When I used to read biographies of writers, I always thought that when they said: “The book writes itself, the writer is just the typist”, they were simply trying to make their profession seem more interesting. I know now that this is absolutely true, no one knows why the current took them to that particular island and not to the one they wanted to reach. Then the obsessive re-drafting and editing begins, and when I can no longer bear to re-read the same words one more time, I send it to my publisher, where it is edited again, and then published.
    And it is a constant source of surprise to me to discover that other people were also in search of that very island and that they find it in my book. One person tells another person about it, the mysterious chain grows, and what the writer thought of as a solitary exercise becomes a bridge, a boat, a means by which souls can travel and communicate.
    From then on, I am no longer the man lost in the storm: I find myself through my readers, I understand what I wrote when I see that others understand it too, but never before. On a few rare occasions, like the one that is about to take place, I manage to look those people in the eye and then I understand that my soul is not alone.
    Once I heard an interviewer ask Paul McCartney: “Could you sum up the Beatles’ message in one sentence?” Tired of hearing the same question myself, I assumed McCartney would give some ironic response, after all, given the complexity of human beings, how can anyone possibly sum up a whole body of work in a few words?
    But Paul said: “Yes, I can.” And he went on: “All you need is love. Do you want me to say more?”
    No, said the interviewer, he didn’t. There was nothing more to be said. The Zahir could be summed up in the same way.

    New book
    “The Zahir” is being published all over the world this year. Click here for more information.

  4. msanjay Says:

    There’s a quote by Richard Bach:

    “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.”

    This is always really hard to digest…

    If we see something and make a judgement or a criticism about it we are adding our angry ‘energy’ to that situation. We are actually increasing it. If we collectively say, “What is happening in this war or that country now is terrible”, we are adding to the energy of that event; we are making it worse for the people in it. What we need to do is to stay completely neutral and know the highest truth i.e. what is happening there is as it should be for those people, however traumatic.

    The Art of Letting Go by Sylvia Clare

    …of course the author goes on to clarify

    So what if we saw an old lady being mugged in the street? Should we just walk on?
    No. If possible, and not to the detriment of your own safety, you can choose to intervene with the action but what you mustn’t do is add your judgement or criticism to it. You must not judge either party involved. That is the tricky bit.

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