If you’re at all serious as a writer (or sculptor, painter, composer, fishing-fly maker, or anything else that involves creative work), you’ve surely gotten some lesson—a sort of epiphany, even—that had a last impact on your work. I was just re-reading Harold G. Henderson’s classic book An Introduction to Haiku and ran into this anecdotal gem about the Haiku master Matsuo Bashō:
One day, when he [Bashō] and [his young pupil] Kikaku were going through the fields, looking at the darting dragonflies, the boy made a seventeen-syllable verse:
Take off their wings,
and they are pepper pods!”
“No!” said Bashō, “that is not haiku. I you wish to make a haiku on the subject, you must say:
“Red pepper pods!
Add wings to them,
and they are dragonflies!”
May all of us who live creative lives be blessed with such irradiating insight from time to time!