Especially attentive readers of Oldenhammer-in-Toronto may have noticed a two year hiatus where I failed to publish any new posts. I also stopped commenting on other Oldhammer blogs and my painting output dropped to fraction of what it normally is. (You can see one of the miniatures I did manage to finish in the picture above: the druid Ferndale Snart from 1985). My absence from the hobby wasn't a result of losing interest, losing a job, finding a job, finding God, moving house, or having a baby.
I had to suspend blogging because I was writing a book. I started it a long time ago but spent years just tinkering and dithering. Only since 2017 did I finally buckle down, and - as I did - I found that writing began to dominate more and more of my time. Finally, there was room for almost nothing else. The only way I was going to finish this bastard was by putting everything else aside.
|Xuedou, the man who compiled
The Blue Cliff Record
I've studied with a Zen Master since 2004 and was ordained myself as a Zen Master (or meditation teacher) five years ago. One of the things that drew me to Zen in the first place was The Blue Cliff Record, which is, by turns, baffling, enlightening and hilarious. I wanted to write a book to help other readers enjoy The Record as much as I do.
I'm also proud to say there is an important connection between my book and our hobby: while I was still writing it, Zhu Bajiee drew six amazing illustrations for me. These pictures really inspired me during a particularly difficult period in the creative process. (You can see an excellent example of Zhu's recent work in this art for Crooked Dice Miniatures). I'm still unsure whether my publisher will include Zhu's illustrations in the printed edition of my book, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
I'll have more to say about my book when it gets closer to the publication date, which is tentatively set for July 2021.
In the meantime, for those of you intrigued by Zen, I'll leave you with three videos that I recently posted on Youtube for my meditation students. The videos deal with how to use mindfulness to help cope with Covid-19. If you are feeling stress, self-doubt or anxiety, I hope you will check them out.
Sharp-eyed viewers may notice the stack of Osprey military histories on the bookshelf. There's a little miniature gaming everywhere in my house, even the meditation room!