John Lennon Speaks Zen
I finally got round to reading the amazing last interview with John Lennon in the December 23rd issue of Rolling Stone. I’d love to link but I can’t find it on their site, sadly. Anyway, I’ve always thought he was a bit of a tiresome peacenik but this interview made me remember that he was actually one of the more intelligent musicians we’ve been blessed with. I highly recommend finding it, if you can.
Anyway, at one point he recalls a zen story that Yoko once told him. It made total sense to me, particularly the way I write (not necessarily this blog but definitely for work). Here it is:
“A King sends his messenger to an artist to request a painting. He paid the artist the money, and the painter said ‘OK, come back’. So a year goes by and the messenger comes back and tells him, ‘the kings waiting for his painting,’ and the painter says, ‘Oh, hold on,’ and whips it off right in front of him and says, ‘Here.’ And the messenger says, ‘What’s this, the king paid you 20,000 bucks for this shit, and you knock it off in five minutes?’ And the painter replies, ‘Yeah, but i spent ten years thinking about it.’”
I love that story - it is exactly how I try to explain to people my writing ‘technique’, if you can call it that. Yes, I may look like I’m dicking about - reading books, or the paper, or blogs. But actually, in my mind, it’s fermenting. At some point, I’ll just know what I want to say and I’ll immediately have to find a piece of paper, or a computer, or whatever. And then it’s done, generally, in the first draft. At least that’s the way the best pieces come out. Sadly, people always want it in an hour. That’s how the lame writing happens…