Following up on yesterday’s post, The Bookshelves of Others, the book I spotted in the bookcase in my bedroom at VCCA was Natalie Goldberg’s classic Writing Down the Bones. I entertained myself with scanning the shelves while brushing my teeth, and so I almost spat a mouth full of toothpaste on the shelf when I finally noticed it. For two weeks I’d been scanning the shelves for something that would interest me, and there, at last, it was and had been all along: a tattered and yellowed copy of Writing Down the Bones.
This was meant to be, I thought, as I had never actually read that book. Only recently have I become interested in learning more about the creative process (see my take on Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write). I’d heard Writing Down the Bones mentioned many times; it was time to read it.
I love that the edition I found is the original 1986 one, when Writing Down the Bones was first published. It has a vintage feel and very much a 1980s vibe. Manuscripts are typed and submitted by mail. Rejection letters are sent. The Internet is nowhere in sight, nor is texting or Facebook. People still call each other, write letters and visit. It was refreshing to read about that way of life in real time and not in hindsight.
And yet, Writing Down the Bones didn’t resonate with me as much as Julia Cameron’s work did. Maybe because the writer within me has already been freed; the subtitle is “Freeing the Writer Within.” Maybe because it’s too Zen; a lot of those references came out of left field for me. However, it was a pleasant read, and I gleaned several insights and ideas from it. I’d love to try a writing marathon, and I liked the idea of running a poetry booth as a charity fundraiser (I’d have to get better at writing poems first.). I did underline a lot, so I thought I’d share that. Following is my list of favorite insights from Writing Down the Bones.
“Writing is so simple, basic and austere.” (p. 24)
“… at that moment