Recently I’ve been gleaning simultaneously from three different books on writing—all considered classics. Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Personal Essays by Sheila Bender and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. An interesting experience, to say the least.
I’ve read all three in years past but felt need of a refresher course to realign me with the true purpose of my writing efforts. If you’ve never opened the pages of any of these excellent resources, I definitely urge you to do so.
Natalie Goldberg’s book is a call to practice your writing. As she writes, “Being a writer is a whole way of life, a way of seeing, thinking, being. Writers hand on what they know.” As we practice our writing, our minds ricochet back into memory and dreams. Her half-page Try This catapults you into areas you’ve never considered writing about previously.
As I applied myself to doing the ten-minute exercises suggested by Sheila Bender, I had hopes they would provide an opening to deeper truths I’d been reluctant to explore. Instead, I find myself dwelling on the ordinary things of everyday life. I console myself by remembering the memoirs published by May Sarton, Journal Of a Solitude. Her book consists of excerpts from daily journals over a year's period. She writes of plants blooming, cards and letters received, friends coming to visit or that she visited. Nothing earth-shattering or mind-blowing. Just a recounting of those little daily victories that deserve to be celebrated.
I saved Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird for last. She so eloquently and concisely deals with the nitty-gritty of writing, I can only absorb what she writes in tiny doses. I nibble and I digest—isn’t that the best way to absorb, to make something a part of yourself? I hope so.