I discovered Natalie Goldberg back in the nineties when she was a regular guest on Jean Feraca’s show on Wisconsin Public Radio. Fridays were about books and writing, and I listened at work while I sat at my desk editing manuscripts.
Natalie made me excited to write. Mundane phrases like “Altoona, Wisconsin” and “coffee ice cream” inspired her to take the ordinary and craft it into something unique. “Keep your hand moving,” she said. “Just write. Even if it’s junk, write! Out of quantity comes quality.”
I listened to Natalie, and I learned and I wrote.
When my ideas dried up, I slowed down.
“If you’re having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down. For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity. It has allowed me to open up — to know that there’s life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way. Creativity exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else.”
I allowed myself to write raw.
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”
I gave myself permission to fail.
“My goal is to write every day. I say it is my ideal. I am careful not to pass judgment or create anxiety if I do not do it. No one lives up to his ideal.”
I wrote for the love of writing.
“That’s very nice if they want to publish you, but don’t pay too much attention to it. It will toss you away. Just continue to write.”
It took years of practice and writing a lot of junk, but one day “they” wanted to publish me. It was very nice. I still think it’s nice whenever I hold my latest book in my hands and see my name on the cover. But, still, I write only because writing is my passion, my driving desire. If it were just about skill and craft, I would have stopped writing long ago.
Who has inspired you to write? What have you learned from them?
Natalie Goldberg is a writing teacher and the author of 11 books, including her first: “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” which has influenced and instructed aspiring writers since its original publication in 1986. Her latest offering is “Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir.”