What I’m Reading Now (Writing Down the Bones)

Another in the series. It is rare that in the very first pages of a book I know I’ll be marking passages and scribbling notes in the margins. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within is one such. Through two forewords and two prefaces, plus the first dozen or so pages, Natalie Goldberg and her introducers have dropped a number of gems and a few items that require commentary. Her writing instruction to Zen practice.

On page xxiv in the preface to the second edition, she quotes Kerouac:

Accept loss forever/Be submissive to everything, open, listening/No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language, and knowledge/Be in love with your life.

On the next pages, I came up with an idea for a writing prompt for the veterans’ workshop.

And I found reinforcement for my own observation that pen and paper are important: “You want to be able to feel that the connection and texture of the pen on the paper.” The paper should be large to encourage large thoughts. Ms. Goldberg suggests a large drawing pad. Or go even bigger: “Try skywriting.”

And there’s the reminder: “Inspiration means ‘breathing in.’ “

In “Writing as a Practice” she observes that the opening sentences, even chapters of each day, should be liberating. One is allowed to say, “I am free to write the worst junk in the world.”

And I did — by taking her suggestion to do the twenty-minute exercise. And, no, I’m not going to reproduce it because a few hours later, I can barely read the writing.

This book is an inspiration in every sense of the word.

3 thoughts on “What I’m Reading Now (Writing Down the Bones)”

  1. I am immersing myself in this book, one small bit at a time. It is such a lovely birthday gift, and I am incredibly grateful. I made note of the Kerouac quote, which made quite an impression…but I liked the wisdom that followed it even more.
    “Now, please, go. Write your asses off.”

  2. I am immersing myself in this book, one small bit at a time. It is such a lovely birthday gift, and I am incredibly grateful. I made note of the Kerouac quote, which made quite an impression…but I liked the wisdom that followed it even more.
    “Now, please, go. Write your asses off.”

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