Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
I was happy with “Inside the River.” I thought the “cup” of my novel was full. Then I was given the incredibly accurate advice to switch the order of the parts so that Emma (not Ana) begins and ends the book since it’s ultimately her story.
I am loving the restructure; the book is reaching its true current. It needs work and I am cutting out unnecessary passages. My phenomenal editor, Jacob Miller, was impressed with how easily I let go of paragraphs and phrases that previously I hung onto.
And so I embrace another Zen story, “A Cup of Tea.” How could I dive into another edit if I cling to the idea that the book is done? If I let my own opinions fill up my head, how is there room to hear someone else’s advice? How do I show up to my work, my days, my mat, my interactions? Am I spacious and open to whatever opportunity presents itself or do I let my ego and past opinions spill over into everything?