Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

Have you ever written something really powerful, then later, when you wanted to write, thought, “How did I ever do that?” You try to reach that level again, and… nothing.


I was talking to a friend about this, and I said I was trying to figure out how to make those moments come. She told me that she listens to music (especially movie music), and then she recommended Writing Down the Bones.

And there it was, on page 11:

“…I attempted several times a month to write about my father dying. I was exploring and composting the material. Then suddenly, and I can’t say how, in December I sat transfixed at the Croissant Express in Minneapolis and a long poem about that subject poured out of me. All the disparate things I had to say were suddenly fused with energy and unity—a bright red tulip shot out of the compost.”

She shares with us the wisdom of her Zen master — teacher — Katagiri Roshi, who told her “It is very deep to have a cup of tea.” Don’t believe it’s all so esoteric, though: At another moment, when she’d asked him about feelings of oneness and enlightenment that overtook her each time she tried to write, he told her “Oh, it’s just laziness. Get to work.”

Natalie Goldberg’s book will help get you unstuck just when you need it.