Here, the trainee finally reaches a place where things simply flow. Watching a great martial arts master go through his paces, seeing the confident fluidity in the performance and noting as well how the master imparts a certain distinctive original flair is a “ri event.”
So too with great writers. They’ve internalized the conventions of their craft, they’ve
learned to ply the various techniques to great effect and, in the end, they do it in original
and distinctive ways. They’re playing by the rules of the craft at the same time that they’re pushing at the boundaries (or even breaking) the rules. These are also ri events. And it’s
this quality that makes good writing memorable and makes us hunger for more.
Ri is the concrete manifestation of our hope for transformation and our faith in the human capacity for something greater than the individual.
So when I think about writing, I think about it like a martial artist. I think about shu, ha, and ri.
In my life, there’s a lot of shu. Occasional moments of ha.
Ri is another story. But I keep writing. I keep trying. Being an author, I find, is just like being a martial artist. I’m walking a path that has many goals but no end.