A Draft of Your First Book
by Mark Chmiel
Thinking of Ko Un and last week’s theme, it occurs to me that your first book could be a collection of short “meditations.” 600-900 words. Like that brilliant “Open Hands” you sent me from Tangiers. “Meditation” is my word for a reflection/snapshot of moments that did something to your insides.
Your goal could be to come up with one per week for the next two years.
“To come up with” means going over and selecting from previous writings, notebooks, blog posts, vibrant memories, Social Justice class agendas, emails to friends or family, … and generating new pieces from current experiences or old experiences which you haven’t yet written down. For these, first thing would be to make a list of 200 or so topics, which could be names of people, or places you were, or feelings that were strong. You could do this over a couple of weeks.
What kind of pieces? Don’t be too judgmental at this stage—you can write about the heart-breaking, the breath-taking, the bleak, the beautiful.
A lot could come from your various USA lives, (Midwest, East Coast) but a lot could also come from your travels to other countries and the people you met there.
Think of writing/collecting this assemblage for 10 people you really care about, your beloveds or comrades or confidantes. If it helps, when writing anew, address it to someone specific, say, Elena.
I’d guess 50% of this is already written down somewhere.
Think 30 minutes a week, or five minutes six days a week.
Now, it’s entirely possible right now you’re thinking: “He really means well, BUT he’s—————-, he has no idea of the time constraints I face”
In which case, trust yourself, and delete this email!
You may have many more important, even urgent, ways to spend your precious time.
Just the other day, I was at the Emerson Basin in Forest Park where we met at dawn three years ago, when you first got back to the States.
See you at a demonstration (sooner or later) in DC regardless of who is elected come November.