Natural writing and editing

This is a question raised in a Dharma gathering. I think it is a good topic to comment a little on.

It is asked how to understand the relation between natural/original writing and editing (Not exact words, but roughly so). With original writing, there is a sense of expressing oneself. It is raw and fresh. With editing, it is a respect for the audience. It is considering how the audience will perceive the writing, and modifies the writing so audience can better take it.

I think we can try taking some extreme case. Say, you lock yourself in a room, not interacting with people for years. What can you write? It is probably very difficult for you to write. Or in another case, you have internet in the room, and you do a lot of reading, pursuing your very high level thinking without ever talking to anyone. Then you start writing. Your writing will probably be very hard for other people to understand. I know some people like that. It is all their own construct. They are on a very high level, but cannot communicate with people. My writing when I first came out of my long time of solitude (of my tech learning), can be very hard to understand. (I always try to tell more. Actually I should tell less.) I had the painful experience of writing because of lack of interaction with people here and the language barrier. It took me a lot of time to write a short article.

So when you write something, you create an identity. You call that identity self. So self (as an identity) is generated out of interaction with other people, in response to the outside world. The true self is the self that is able to interact and respond to the outside world. It is the self that is playing.

Then you do some editing, working on the style and details. But the substance is already there. I know some people do revising many times. My most favorite Chinese novelist kept revising his novels for 20 years. But his novel is quite long and complex. So it is worth spending time keeping improving it. He rearranged various sections for many times to find a more beautiful structure (He even wrote software to help him doing that). But the substance is deeply rooted in his life experiences.

Recently I have more enjoyment of writing instead of pain. It comes out more naturally and doesn’t take me much time. It is only because I do more interaction now and I am more in context of the space here. Also after in the world of language for a while, the words and sentences quite often just build themselves. Of course they build themselves through me. 🙂



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Filed under Chan/Zen, Liberal Arts, Random Thoughts

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