A Fine Silvery Stream

Sheng Yen, a Chinese Buddhist monk, wrote this passage:

“Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it.”

I’ve been doing this, but not only with my meditation practice. I’m learning to do this with story as well. A few days ago, I wrote an opening line, then followed that line to the next, and the next, like I was floating along that fine, silvery stream. I didn’t know where the story was going, where it would end, even if it would end, or just fizzle out. As I softly followed, it filled in the grooves and cracks. The crevices were found. The story emerged and was written.

I am doing the same again now but this next one is already longer. It may be a novella or a book. I can’t tell yet because I don’t know where that silver stream is carrying me. I don’t even know genre yet. All I know is that every day that I come to this story, something happens that surprises me. It’s taking form as I write, one sentence after another.

Faith is a beautiful thing – not faith in myself or my abilities, but faith in the story that is being told.

Let the story be what it wants to be. Let it lead the way, and be content to follow.

Posted in Craft, Random Thoughts.

2 Comments

  1. Wow. This is beautiful and profound–and such an inspiring, timely (for me!) read today. I love the excitement and joy–and striking power and thrill of waterfalls–but you can only ride a waterfall, or play in it, or stand near it in awe . . . As an approach to life and to craft, yes . . . following the stream makes more sense.

    “It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it.”

    🙂

    • I’m so glad to inspire you! I find the entire process of discovering a story this way to be a very profound experience, almost like discovering another world and falling in love with it as it is slowly revealed.

      Happy writing!

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