Mark Terry

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Searching for the Sound

March 11, 2009
My friend Natasha--you know her as SpyScribbler--sent me a book, "Zen Guitar" by Philip Toshio Sudo. Here's an excerpt that applies nicely, I think, to the question: why do you write?

What do you think?

"I hear many students ask, 'What exactly is this sound? A Gibson Les Paul through a stack of Marshall amps? A hand-crafted classical played center stage at Carnegie Hall?'

"It is all of that and none of that. At bottom, it is the sound of the divine spark within us all. Like the cry of a child or the howl of a wolf, it transcends language and culture. It is the sound that drives the dance of life. Zen masters call it sekishu no onjo--'the sound of one hand clapping.'

"Each of us has the potential to know this sound in our own way. Some people are driven to find it through bongos or bagpipes, others use kalimbas or keyboards. Some just open their throats and sing. Some hear the sound through dance or diving or acting or architecture--or just sitting in complete silence.

"It's not enough to simply find your means to express this sound, though sadly, some people never do. You must find your sound, then dig into it until you reach its very source. This is the challenge of Zen Guitar. For at the source of your sound is the source of all sound. Digging to that source means learning to hear every sound--yours and all those around you--as both distinct and One Great Sound. Call it the sound of one hand clapping, call it the voice of God. If you get to that source you will have heard it all.

"Whatever obstacles you face, never stop listening to the sound inside you. Do so and you are sure to lose the Way."



Anonymous Parker Haynes said...


Thanks for posting this excerpt--you provided an inspiring start to my day.

I find myself drifting away from your question of "why do You write," and more into the very core of who or from where is the source of all. That didn't make much sense, did it? Ah, the conundrums we face when we try to find words to describe that which is beyond words and mental constructs.

6:06 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Wow, Mark. That was exactly what I needed to think about today.


9:35 AM  
Anonymous gregory huffstutter said...

With all the recent talk about why one writes... here's some affirmations I tell myself when sitting down to a new project, or feeling stalled out:

This story will not exist except for your imagination. And if you don’t do the tedious, nasty work of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) it will never take its first breath. Without this effort, none of your characters will ever live in our world.

You may see all the flaws in the narrative, but nobody is more qualified to write this particular story, because it emerged whole cloth from your mind. Nobody can write Reacher like Lee Child. Nobody can write Stillwater like Mark Terry. You are the best pilot of this boat.

Writing is a noble pursuit. You’re following in a long line of storytellers, playwrights, bards.
Instead of sitting back, watching TV, and only being a consumer of other people’s stories, you’re participating in the process – adding to the lexicon of the human written word – even if your work never earns a tidy profit.

Words have power. They ripple through time, providing a bridge to future generations. Your books may never get published or sell the way you hope, but they may provide inspiration… maybe a friend, maybe a fan, maybe your child will read your words and decide to create their own stories.

I still have a college essay my grandmother wrote, a children’s story my mother wrote, a screenplay my father wrote… and they all mean something to me, even though they were all unpublished. They all helped guide me towards learning this craft. Who knows what your words may eventually inspire?

10:48 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Very nice. Very nice indeed.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Hi Mark:
Wow . . . beautiful. Thanks for posting this. Lately, I have been trying exceedingly hard to find my sound--in real life especially. I needed this today,

3:08 PM  

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