What’s your story?
The story about the kind of morning you’ve had or that pivotal moment 12 years ago that changed everything or how you met your best friend or that time you hitchhiked across state lines or why you prefer to shop at this grocery store over that one.
We all have stories. They inform who we are and how we guide our days. But we don’t often think of ourselves as storytellers.
We don’t often think of ourselves as writers. Even those of us who blog don’t always claim that title.
And yet, by virtue of being alive, we are. So says Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones.
Whether or not you journal, blog, or write in the most writerly sense of that word, I hope you’ll give this month’s book a chance. Goldberg’s wisdom about writing holds insights for all of us. It may inspire you to tell a certain part of your life story in the pages of a journal or over coffee with a friend. It may help you become better acquainted with yourself. It may help you recognize the beauty in your every day.
“I don’t think everyone wants to create the great American novel, but we all have a dream of telling our stories–of realizing what we think, feel, and see before we die. Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.” p. xii
“You are exposing your life, not how your ego would like to see you represented, but how you are as a human being. And it is because of this that I think writing is religious. It splits you open and softens your heart toward the homely world.” p. 40
“We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand.” p. 47
There are many ways to read this book. Most of the chapters are only a page or two long and some of them contain writing prompts. You may want to purchase a notebook and follow these prompts. Or you may want to simply read and reflect as you go. (That’s what I’ve been doing and I’m pretty happy with the brainstorming that’s resulted.) You don’t even have to read Writing Down the Bones in any particular order.
The book was published almost 30 years ago but it remains uncannily relevant. Goldberg is an accomplished writer and teacher. She has also studied meditation and these ideas are reflected on some of the pages. Is there a relationship between writing and meditation? I wouldn’t have thought of it prior to picking up this book but now it seems so clear. I understand not everyone is comfortable with the idea of meditation, particularly when it’s attached to Zen Buddhism. Goldberg isn’t teaching Zen meditation in these pages. But we shouldn’t forget the role meditation can play in Christianity.
Meditation can be a way of drawing nearer to God, quieting the wild rumpus of our minds, and overcoming negative thinking. All of which no doubt can help us better share our stories.
Because we do have stories worth being told, whether it’s the quiet faithfulness of a 35-year-long career at the same job, the cacophony of spilled cheerios, crying babes, and neverending laundry, a hiking trip through the Grand Canyon, or the time you said yes and it changed everything.
Read along. Write if you want. Embrace your inner storyteller. We’re waiting to hear what only you can say.
Come back Wednesday, Nov. 26 for our discussion post with Cara Meredith. Join the Facebook group to share quotes and discuss the book throughout the month. On Twitter, the official Red Couch Book Club hashtag is #redcouchbc.
- Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life– Natalie Goldberg
- The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life With Language– Natalie Goldberg
- Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir– Natalie Goldberg
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life– Anne Lamott
- On Writing– Stephen King
- Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World– Nish Weiseth
- On Writing Well– William Zinsser
- Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity– Ray Bradbury
- The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity– Julia Cameron
*Recommended by Leigh Kramer and Kelley Nikondeha
Will you be reading Writing Down the Bones with us?
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