A writing mentor gave me a book last Sunday. She said its a book she's found helpful in her writing and wanted to pass on a copy to me. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg. I've been in a writing funk for a while (hence no posts), and this was exactly what I needed. I was at class all day today and, for some wonderful reason, had brought the book with me. I read a bit at lunch. Here are my thoughts after the first chapter:
This woman knows me. Did she sneak into my head? Thoughts I’ve never acknowledge, possibly didn’t know I had and she is writing about it. Every sentence is ‘yes’ or ‘oh dear, so true’. Even the title: Freeing the Writer Within. My writer is trapped, shackled by dirty dishes, spit-flecked mirrors and a whiney dog.
How many times have I stood in a stationary store, handling the journals and notebooks? Paging through, feeling the cover, feeling the weight of the page, does it fit right, does it feel right. Switching pens, fancy, plain, blue ink, black ink, not a fan of rainbow ink. Heavy pens, light pens, fat pens, thin pens. I’ve written on steno notebooks, blank-sheeted sketch pads, wishing for an old-fashioned typewriter rather than a computer because that would make me feel more like a writer. I would be a real writer if I could use a typewriter. Spending tons of money finding an old typewriter, keeping it working, searching the internet for supplies. Would Pete be able to fix it if it broke? Dealing with correction tape and white out instead of a delete key. That would make me a real writer.
When I write on the computer I feel I should be writing with pen and paper. That’s how to really write. Goldberg even says this: Handwriting is more connected to the movement of the heart. See, I should write longhand. It’s more creative. I need more journals. Journals that are all the same, lined up on the shelf years from now with the dates on the spine. A collection of my ideas. My life’s work. My masterpiece of ... Of what? What do I really write? No one would read that. Well, my biographer will have to wade through all the random thoughts to find the nuggets of actual writing. But how will they do that if I type everything. I have to write with pen and paper. That would make me a real writer.
And then there’s the business of where to write. Do real writers write in cafes with endless supplies of caffeinated beverages? Do real writers cloister themselves away in attics? I need an attic. I can’t be a real writer unless I climb a rickety staircase to the top of a house. I must not be a real writer, I live in a ranch.
I didn’t want to call the third bedroom the office. What a boring name. Yes it has books, a desk, computer, printer, etc. But I wanted to call it the ‘den’. It’s a better name. A name that brings to mind coziness. A writerly name. I can write in a place called the ‘den’. I can’t write in a place called the ‘office’. Maybe I should be calling it the ‘studio’. Do writers have studios? A studio means creativity and inspiration. A room called a studio doesn't have to be at the top of a flight of stairs. (Although, you could say our den is at the top of the basement stairs.) I sew in that room too. Maybe I should call it my studio. That would make me a real writer.