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Most Helpful Favorable Review
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.
posted by 650824 on February 20, 2010Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
An Abstract and Zen Look at Living The Writer's Life
Natalie Goldberg is a writing teacher, and in Writing Down The Bones, she promotes the act of writing practice. Writing practice is daily journal writing, handwritten and free flowing thought. Goldberg refers to this type of writing as "first thought," the rich and vibrant thought that accompanies the act of letting go. A student of Zen and meditation, Goldberg marries the two concepts, often quoting her Zen teachers and discussing making writing a part of daily life.
Those interested in understanding how to craft a novel or write memoir or delve into poetry can all benefit from this little book. No, it will not specify the secrets to public success as a writer. However, it will provide the encouragement and explain the reward with allowing oneself to be a writer. Goldberg specifically discusses the concept of what she refers to as "monkey mind," that internal censor that challenges all artists. It asks them, "Who do you think you are?" when delving into creative endeavors. She strategizes methods of dealing with money mind and shutting down the censor, returning to writing as the solution.
Goldberg is a proponent of writing mirroring life, and she challenges writers to explore all aspects of their lives in writing, explaining that avoiding uncomfortable topics will be evident to readers. Often, Writing Down The Bones gets quite abstract and new age. She explains that writing has less to do with talent than it does with practice, and she insists that writers write using all of their senses, engaging their readers with detailed explanations the environment in which the event is occurring. For writers of fast-paced or genre fiction, Goldberg's tactics may seem more useful to someone writing in other genres. However, Goldberg's perspective of writing as art and as having higher meaning as a form of art serves as a reminder to all artists the higher power they, themselves, are serving.
Goldberg meets her topics with humor and enthusiasm, challenging common writing dilemmas like where to write, how to write, when to write, and finding time. Her simple solution? Two words that can sum up all of the concepts in Writing Down The Bones: just write. Make no excuses, for the internal censor will be very creative itself in encouraging writers not to write. Just write, and appreciate life, and bring that appreciation and understanding to the page.
posted by Richard_Szponder on September 19, 2010Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Given how heavily this book is promoted to new writers I was sho
Given how heavily this book is promoted to new writers I was shocked at how disappointed I was in it. "Writing Down The Bones" may have been more aptly titled "If You Write Poetry and Need a Cheerleader, I'm Here for You".Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I really did try to like this book and in that spirit I should add that while I immensely enjoyed the personal stories that, say, Stephen King and David Morrell shared in their memoirs, WRITING DOWN THE BONES felt like it was all about her, her, her. And how can I possibly pretend to identify with the horrible problem of being so obsessed with her friend's roommate's chocolate brownies that she (a) can't concentrate on a movie and (b) blows off her friends so that she can rush home to eat the aforementioned brownies? I'm not sure what the point of her chocolate obsession story ultimately wasn't funny and it colored the way I saw the author as I slogged through the rest of the book.
If you're looking for a deeply personal read written by a poet for other poets, this book will serve you well. If you're looking for a book that actually delves into craft and technique, particularly for novel writers, I suggest Stephen King's ON WRITING or David Morrell's THE SUCCESSFUL NOVELIST. If you're looking for a particularly "female" memoir with writing advice, go with Janet Evanovich's HOW I WRITE. Even that book, which is too shallow for anyone other than the absolute beginner, is more useful than WRITING DOWN THE BONES.
I really did try to like this book but the title is misleading and I didn't get what I expected. Unfortunately, even after adjusting my expectations I still little of use here.
Posted March 23, 2012
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