A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. The book was assigned for a Creative Writing class I had back in 2004 (Hi, Vinnie). I took one look at it and rolled my eyes, thinking Whatever, I’ve been writing for years. What can this book possibly have for me?
Let it be said now, I was a fucking idiot when I was 17.
Goldberg’s book provided invaluable insights on the process of writing. I didn’t even think process was important, but the book made it clear that it was all there is. End result is nothing. Writing is life. You must live it.
I devoured the book. I read every inch of it and implemented practices from it into my life. It helped my writing grow in leaps and bounds.
Now, six and a half years later, I’ve pulled the book off my shelves again. I’m going to reread it. Implement the practices again, with six and a half years of knowledge added to my brain since the first time I read it. See what changes. See what I didn’t remember so well. See what I never forgot.
Being a writer is a neverending career. You never hit some imaginary level of “Grand Illustrious Master of the Pen” and then you’re done, no more advancement to go. There’s no level caps, and your achievements are more like Feats of Strength*** — they’re personal, things to look at and think “Yeah, I did that.” A lot of other folks — except your writer friends — won’t care.
And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. Writing may make you a hermit. What are you going to make of that? — that’s the question. (Shakespeare had it wrong.)
What I’m going to make of that is some damn good stories. And poems. It’s not about outward recognition — yes, I’m nervous when I do put my stuff out there, and that’s part of the process too, that trial by fire of can you stand by your work enough to put it out there and take the criticism, but that’s not why I write. It informs my writing and makes me a better writer — I never would have won the Slam had I not lost it first. But it’s not why I write.
I write because I have fire in the head. And I’ll burn if I don’t let it out.
-your drugged up on painkillers Katje