“The Japanese describe the genre as “a running brush” as it does not lie so much in the subjects it deals with but rather in the movement of the wind. The style consists of personal interconnected essays or fragmented ideas that respond to the author’s surroundings; however, these “essays” jump from one to the other by association, as the mind does as it distractedly meditates and memories, abstractions, extracts of other texts, lists, opinions, dreams and poems crop up. It gathers all of the inventory that we are, Calvino would say.
In zuihitsu we feel the writing process and touch the textures of the author’s mind more than the themes or subjects referred to, which is why it is often translated as “miscellany” or “miscellaneous essay;” there is no central point but rather parts that interact with each other. There could be, for example, parts in verse, and which is perhaps the best vehicle for an idea, and parts in prose, whose function is to absorb the sentimentalism in a way that verse cannot. Reading or writing zuihitsu is, in short, to see how the form changes the content.”-“Zuihitsu: The Literary Genre In Which The Text Can Drift Like A Cloud.” faena.com
I liked this definition and included in my about page:
“[S]he writes personally and casually, for the joy of it, about anything that comes to mind, providing that what she thinks might impress readers…excluding anything completely fictional.”-Stephen Carter, ed. Introduction to The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays: Zuihitsu from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century. Washington, D.C: Columbia University Press, 2014.