I am on the Writer's Journey, and I am reminded of this truth every time I lapse back into some reminiscence, some nostalgia for times in my life where I feel as though I should have done more, where I should have been more engaged.
But I was already on the Writer's Journey at that point, drifting naturally into worlds of expression both related to and mutually exclusive from my own, shooting movies in my backyard, penning lyrics to a heartfelt song.
Merely a landmark of where I was on the Writer's Journey, a mile marker where others chose to exit and prosper, but where I had no choice but to continue on, a very part of the road itself.
I am still on the Writer's Journey, you see, and even though I may have visited your towns and took the name of your resident population, I have always considered myself something other than.
It is why the Writer's Journey has placed me here, aware of the growth of the settlements I've helped create, yet moving in a self-contained circle held together by something natural, something that is as real to me as anything could ever be.
And so here is a postcard from the Writer's Journey, sent from a place where the transience has stabilized, letting all of you know in the brotherhood and sisterhood of expression, that I'm still doing the best work that I can.
I wanted to post a little something here about Buddhism Without Beliefs by British author, teacher, and self-proclaimed "secular Buddhist," Stephen Batchelor, because the book always seems to become relevant in my life when I least expect it. I bring it up now, for instance, only because mention of the book had to be edited out of my current manuscript for reasons of extraneous detail. But there it is again, on my mind, and here it needs to spill.
I first came across the book about ten years ago while working at Barnes & Noble during a semi-lucid morning shift, shelving books in the "Eastern Religions" section. The mere appearance of the book caught my attention -- a light yellow sliver of a volume shoved between the other books like a forced card. I grabbed it and started flipping through, and hours later, I had bought my own copy and was making notes in the margins, notes on Batchelor's stripped-down overview of Buddhism that set me on a course of study for the next couple of months.
For the writer in me, the Buddhist idea of the reorganization of perception was akin to both the English Romantics of the nineteenth century, and the writers of the Beat Generation in twentieth century New York, both literary movements having been a tremendous inspiration on my own writing then and now. I thought, Something had to have set Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg off on their spiritual journeys, right? Now it was my turn.
Granted, I never went so far as to proclaim myself a practicing Buddhist (although I did experiment with Batchelor's process of mediation), but I cannot deny that the easy-to-understand explanations of a religious system that, according to Batchelor (strictly from his agnostic perspective and in no way meant to insult traditional Buddhism), is more of an internalized modification method than a religion, and it has stayed with me to this very day. A particular highlight for me was the section on "Compassion," and how mastery of this emotion through basic and solid reasoning (Batchelor's walk-through of how to understand a perceived "enemy" is nothing short of revelatory) is not only essential to the human condition, but is a common thread of all religious systems to which most of the Western world adheres. Want to understand why you should love your enemy instead of just doing it because a man named Jesus said so? It's all there.
By way of a quick progress report, I've implemented a three-part plan to complete the final draft of my third novel. I love the number three. I always have. I always will.
See? Like that. Three declarative sentences in a row.
Anyway, the first part of the plan is to forge ahead no matter how difficult this red pen stage is, although as I've mentioned earlier, I have broken through to the more inspired and sober parts of this book. And again, I have to report that this stage has been, for lack of a better word, misrepresented on TedTorres.com as being my "favorite" part. I was actually referring to the second part of the plan ...
Which is the inserting of the corrections. This is the part I love due to its certain level of finality. After doing as much as I can of the edits, the second part of my daily regimen is to go back and put chapters in the can, so to speak. This second stage sort of reminds me of the old "Billy Boy" cartoon, where the goat eats up the train tracks, the snake eating its own tail. But it's a productive consumption of track, bringing me all the more closer and quicker to getting the finished manuscript into the right hands.
And some very specific hands are part of the third part of the plan, again happening in conjunction with the first two, and that is to get the finished pages to you (and you know who you are), my invaluable confidant on the outside. In this regard I feel like William S. Burroughs in Tangiers, feeding his finished pages to Ginsberg and Kerouac in New York, telling them that it doesn't matter in what order the pages go, just publish it.
Well, I'm not that liberal with the piece. My OCD won't allow it. I've already written my Naked Lunch.
Behold the power of three!