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Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg's Inspiring Gifts

Of Words; of Wisdom

By Chris Dunmire

“Don't identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind those black-and-white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you. A moment you were awake enough to write down and capture.” — Natalie Goldberg

Six years ago, when I was nearly finished reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within for the very first time, I wrote the blog post below dated May 21, 2006.

At the time of the writing, I was in the habit of chronicling my creative journey, and so my little piece was not only writing practice, but a triumphant little thread of gratitude in my personal tapestry — my claim to reading at least one of the required works on the path to becoming a better writer, one I happened to discover long after most.

I was grateful for Goldberg's guidance. And for her knack for being real.

What I couldn't have possibly known at the time was that in a few more years Goldberg would officially weave her way through my professional work and that I'd have a hand in helping promote the 20th Edition of 'Bones' in its expanded, digital ebook form through Creativity Portal, along with two exclusive interviews from Goldberg, conducted by Molly Anderson-Childers.

Here's Natalie Goldberg on Creativity Portal, listing her interviews and assortment of articles and book excerpts (eight in all) from Writing Down the Bones and Thunder and Lightning.

Believe me, you never know what possibilities might hatch and gifts will materialize. •

© 2012 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.

Natalie Goldberg's 'Writing Down the Bones'

Freeing the Writer AND Artist Within

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

By Chris Dunmire

I am on page 124 of the classic work by Natalie Goldberg titled Writing Down the Bones. This book, published in 1986, has been lauded in a number of creativity, spirituality, and writing books that I've read. Now I understand why. It's not really a how-to writing book in the technical sense; it's more of a how-to writing book in the spiritual common-sense.

WDTB points us to what we already know deep within us, and encourages us to give it life through our written words. (The visual artist in me is also learning much from this book.)

From the back cover:

"The secret of creativity, Natalie Goldberg makes clear, is to subtract rules for writing, not add them. It's a process of 'uneducation' rather than education. Most people are baffled at how to teach this, since teaching and 'uneducation' appear contradictory. But Natalie's experience in Zen meditation, which is essentially a subtractive process, has provided her insights."

I wedged a sticky Post-it bookmark on page 32 in the chapter titled We Are Not the Poem. This simple truth about how we express ourselves through writing (or art) on any given day is so liberating.

The chapter begins:

"The problem is we think we exist. We think our words are permanent and solid and stamp us forever. That's not true. We write in the moment."

And concludes:

"Don't identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind those black-and-white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you. A moment you were awake enough to write down and capture."

When I write from my core, creativity and spirituality become one. Everyday I am different. This book facilitates a wonderful journey in celebrating the details of our lives and manifesting our individual truths in the moments that they arrive.

For me, writing and art is an expression of the soul and of the spirit, a creative outlet and inlet of the collective wisdom surrounding us, permeating inside us.

I hope that every aspiring writer and artist reads this book. •

© 2006 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.

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