Writing advice from friends old and new
A few important reminders from writer Natalie Goldberg, artist and author of the uber-classic Writing Down the Bones. Like Julia Cameron, Goldberg asserts that writing is a basic element of connected existence for everyone, writers and non-writers alike.
Goldberg’s most recent book, An Old Friend from Far Away, was released in February. Old Friend is about writing personal memoir — exploring memories and connecting with the self in a way that opens doors for all who follow a creative path. I haven’t read the book yet, but Goldberg is certainly an “old friend” to many of us.
In this morning’s Boston Globe, novelist Allegra Goodman published the op-ed piece “So, you want to be a writer? Here’s how.” She advises against writing about yourself and advocates reading widely (of course) and finding a peaceful place to work (yeah, right).
And this is true for everyone, but especially for women: If you don’t value your own time, other people won’t either. Trust me, you can’t write a novel in stolen minutes outside your daughter’s tap class. Virginia Woolf declared that a woman needs a room of her own. Well, the room won’t help, if you don’t shut the door. Post a note. ‘Book in progress, please do not disturb unless you’re bleeding.’ Or these lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which I have adapted for writing mothers: ‘. . . Beware! Beware! / Her flashing eyes, her floating hair! Weave a circle round her thrice, / And close your eyes with holy dread, / For she on honey-dew hath fed, / and drunk the milk of Paradise.’
Unfortunately, the “don’t bother me unless you’re bleeding” routine really isn’t appropriate for mothers with children under the age of six, to my mind. What do you think?