Happy 2003, everyone!
[Caution: The following scribble contains asterisks (*, **, etc.) which, unlike in my other blog entries, mean "look down to the bottom of this scribble because there's a note relating to this."]
I've started listening, during my commute, to Natalie Goldberg's reading of her THUNDER & LIGHTNING: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft cassette tapes. I've had a looong dry spell in my writing*--oh, two years, anyway--and now I dimly remember that I was feeling like I needed to "take it to the next level**" but that sort of got forgotten in all the thrashing and writhing in the anguish of the extinguished fire.
Now I'm thinking, Goldberg's tapes are just what I was needing but didn't know it at the time. (No, you'll be sorry to learn, she doesn't advise writers not to write run-on sentences.) I've only got through the first side of the first tape so far, and I can already tell I'll be listening to these over and over again. For one thing I have a poor memory for things I hear as opposed to things I read. For another, the things she says are very meaningful, dense with import, despite her simple, clear presentation. There are layers of implications that will take me several hearings to absorb.
The first thing she says (and do get the book or tapes and enjoy her own, infinitely better, expression of them) is that writing will make you miserable. I laughed out loud at that. Don't be put off though. Fact is, life makes you miserable. It also makes you joyful, fearful, rageful, hopeful and love-full. You're a human being; those states are natural to us, and above all--transitory. If you're a writer, writing is all you can do about it.
I won't go on and on about this. Except to add that what she is teaching, advocating, for writers is extremely scary, exciting, and affirming. And it has helped me write. I'm working on the novel again.
* - my fiction writing, I mean. I've still been writing letters, message board entries, grocery lists...
** - I hate that phrase. It reeks pomposity without content. I use it here as a sort of self-mockery.