Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg was published in 1986, so despite the varying reviews about the content, it is amazing to see that this little book is still in print. Among the negative comments posted on Amazon, several people complain that there was not enough direction or specific detail on how to improve your writing.
I am of the camp that writing is just like everything else in life: you improve the more you practice. Reading, having conversations, living, these are all beneficial forms of practice and while I think Goldberg highlights all successfully, the words in this book are much more than instruction.
"A writer is all at once everything-- an architect, French cook, farmer-- and at the same time, a writer is none of these things." -Goldberg, 71
"The parts of another's writing that are natural to you will become you, and you will use some of those moves when you write. But not artificially. Great lovers realize that they are what they are in love with." -Goldberg, 79
"Share your work with people. Don't let it just pile up in notebooks. Let it out. Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist. We suffer anyway as human beings. Don't make it any harder on yourself." -Goldberg, 81
"Writing is the act of burning through the fog in your mind. Don't carry the fog out on paper. Even if you are not sure of something, express it as though you know yourself. With this practice, you eventually will." -Goldberg, 86
"I because to form a word with your lips and tongue or think a thing and then dare to write it down so you can never take it back is the most powerful thing I know. I am trying to come alive, to find the distances in my own recesses and bring them forward and give them color and form." -Goldberg, 115
Writing may not be your cup of tea, but I hope these words encourage you to take a risk in your life, and trust that you are strong enough to embrace your dreams with all your might. xN
Bear Mountain State Park, early September 2009