Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg has been on my shelf for 15 years. I have not read it. I've read pieces of it, a paragraph here, a chapter there. It was, after all, a mandatory textbook in my first creative writing class at BC more than 15 years ago. As a conscientious student, I purchased all of the books on my list well before the first day of school. But, unlike most of the tomes I purchased for school, I didn't sell it back. Beyond that odd paragraph, the odd chapter, I hadn't been required to crack its pages. Creative writing class was, after all, about the writing.
Still, I kept it. It traveled with me to Fresno State, where it sat on my shelf with my knick-knacks and my Latin Dictionary. I still have the Latin Dictionary, you know. And my Wheelock's. Latin was fun. And when I graduated Fresno State, mid-year and without much hullaballoo, Writing Down the Bones came home with me, packed away in boxes with that Latin Dictionary and a Bible I still haven't read through.
Perhaps some of you will cluck at that last. I've started it more times than I can count. I haven't made it through Genesis. The begetting gets to me after a while. And the late hour. Why I try to read these things at midnight...I don't know. If it helps, I have passages of Romans memorized, bits of Ephesians, remnants of a church-compliant upbringing. Still, given its great impact on the world, on history, on literature...I thought I should read it through at least once, beginning to end and better inform my own opinions regarding the same.
Have I mentioned I'm still on Genesis?
But, that's beside the point. I was sitting here tonight, scrounging through my head for something interesting to say...when I happened to look up at the row of books stationed directly above my computer monitor. That is where my "writing" books are shelved. And this book, Writing Down the Bones, caught my eye. Without even thinking, I pulled it down and started to thumb through the pages. Nothing looked familiar. I read the first chapter immediately, the second soon after.
The writing is clear, honest. And, in the first chapter, it gives me permission to type. Do you know how many books I've read that tell me to write long-hand? I inflict it on my bedside journal, because no one will ever read it. But my stories? Anything requiring coherence? Give me the keyboard. Give me black type-face and I don't care about the font. I think I'm working this draft in Calibri?
Huh. Validation. And I've only been waiting for 15 years. Maybe I should try Genesis again?