Maine sunflower, www.carolineallen.com
I read an English translation of the I Ching almost daily. I find the ancient Chinese way of putting things quirky and exotic. “The penetrating (wind) moves above the profound (water) forming the condition for Reuniting.”
I mean, ponder that for a while and see where it puts your mind!
My favorite paragraph in the translation by R.L. Wing is this: “Those involved in creative projects should now concern themselves with commmunicating. Avoid elitism or egotism in your work, or you may lose the true thread of creativity. Look for the symbols, rhythms and patterns that have long inspired mankind, and incorporate them into your work. Make a sincere attempt to meet the social responsibility of the artist: Reuniting people with their reality.” (emphasis mine)
How as writers do we “reunite people with their reality”? I believe we do this by being honest, by delving deep, below ego, below social expectations, beyond even worldly matters. We go to our core selves and express it. You know you’ve “reunited people with their reality” when someone reads something and the universality of it brings tears, or sudden light, joy. Simplicity. You’ve written something that’s broken through the allusion, the delusion, of modern life. You’ve helped them remember how much they love life.
When I teach or coach writers, I always come back to this: Tell the truth. What is your truth? Tell it. Don’t be politically correct. Don’t be clever. Keep is simple. Don’t try to be profound, just be yourself. It is in the core of your uniqueness that you find the universal spark.
Of course, it may take a lifetime of excavation and exploration for any of us to come to know our true selves. It may be a lifetime of work to reunite ourselves with our own reality, let alone be able to express in a way that reunites others with their reality. The I Ching reminds us that it’s our job as artists to take on such a task.
I’m a writing coach. www.artofstorytellingonline.com.