Sunday, September 12, 2010

Books: The Tao of Writing

The Tao of Writing
by Ralph L. Wahlstrom
Copyright 2006
210  pages

The title of this book grabbed me when I saw it on the shelf. I don't know a lot about Eastern philosophy but I like what I do know. This book is taglined "Imagine. Create. Flow." What could be better?

The book goes into the Tao and offers some of the sayings for which that philosophy is known. The book then applies it to writing. For example, "The Taoist writer must write with compassion, balance, humility, and firm adherence to truth." (130).

There was not a lot of preaching in here, although toward the end the author did admonish writers to write for peace. "All peace is local and begins within ourselves and our lives." (136). That's a great line.

Additionally, the book covers a little Feng Shui for writers. Rid thyself of clutter, says the author (yes, I'm guilty of that!). Clutter is distraction, and distraction is something else one must be aware of. Distractions can be TV, radio, the computer and Internet, your friends, the laundry - all of the things that take a writer away from the words.

As far as room arrangement, he recommends that for good Feng Shui one should not have her back to the door (which I do). The entry should be free of clutter and barriers. This is to allow the energy to flow in. If you must sit with your back to the door, put up a mirror so you can see the entrance.

The room should have a view (mine does, thank goodness). It should be well-lit. The desk should not be in a corner; instead, your back should be the corner or wall.

Throw out the stuff you aren't using.

He recommends a nice dark blue rug in the middle of the room.

As far as other colors, he gives a list of what the colors may mean but does not make recommendations, other than to keep it light.

At the end of the book, the author offers up 70 ideas for "writing the Tao." These range from writing about hope (No. 49) to writing haiku (No. 56). There is also a nice bibliography at the end (but no index and in this day and age every nonfiction book should have an index).

One word of caution: I did find this to be somewhat difficult reading. The author likes long sentences and long lists that go on and on without breaking them up. It took me two weeks to get through this book, and I read two others during the same time period. This is the book I carried around with me to read while I was at the doctor's office or during other waits.

I also recommend this for mostly for really serious writers, or students of the Tao philosophy who are writers.

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