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QUINTESSENCE

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As a Zen monk once expressed it, great satisfaction lies as close as our next aware breath. Deep writers, when they can get out of their own way and achieve right silence, right intention, right relationship, and right effort, know that great satisfaction lies as close as the nearest slip of blank paper. Who would not want to experience a grave, ecstatic unlocking of the spirit of the word? Who would not want to write deeply?

We all want this. But much is required of us if we hope to craft true, beautiful things and get them to market. We are required to wrestle with our psychological demons. We are required to alter our self-talk so that we focus on our ideas and not on our frailties. We are required to intend to write, or else nothing will incubate. We are required to relate to our work and, when the time comes, relate to marketplace players. We are required to love our work and also to evaluate it.

- From "Deep Writing," by Eric Maisel

I find myself thinking about the collusion of fundamental requirements in the writer's work: silence, intention, effort. These are the conditions under which, like alchemists of old, we attempt to transform our vaguest of intentions into meaning, and if very good or inspired - art. Once the writer's work is complete in its transition from idea to page, the effort of editing begins: seeing the whole - answering the self-imposed question, "What is it I have made?" We shave away at sentence tags and shiny adjectives, attuned to exposing the theme, shaping the writing to our highest craft. Post editing, the writer's work shifts to the mandates of the publishing world and the marketing of his or her efforts. Here stand the pillars of framing, condensed summary, and successful leverage - placing work in fertile publishing soil and tending that process. (And it is a process, from manuscript to book signing!) Writing is both creation and production, and both phases are arduous, with aesthetic importance.

I have discovered personally that the first two phases, creation and editing, generally matter most to the writer. Deep inner engagement and the accomplishment of personal commitment drive meaningful writing. The third phase, marketing, matters significantly to the publishing world and the satisfied reader. All elements of the theme-to-book cycle require our best efforts. But the first two tasks are done largely in solitary, disciplined intention by the writer alone, while marketing a manuscript toward success as a book draws in the supportive talents of a crackerjack professional publishing team. Moving from solitude to committee can be nerve-wracking and yet nurturing, offering the writer expertise as well as a shared vision: each step a part of the tripod that stands a book in the marketplace and hopefully into the hands of a reader. At any given moment, regardless of where the writer is in the cycle - creating or selling - the intention in the genesis of the work must stay protected in the writer's heart. Writing begins with an insight, and that insight forms the core of everything to follow. Eric Maisel reminds us of this truth. Write deeply. Unlock the spirit of the word.
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