“Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg-A Personal Reflection


“The problem is we think we exist. We think our words are permanent and solid and stamp us forever. That’s not true. We write in the moment.”- Natalie Goldberg

This is my now second reading of the book “Writing Down the Bones,” and I find as I get older the books that I read come to mean vastly different things than when I first stumbled across the words within. This time around, one section struck me and touched at the core of my difficulty managing passion with responsibility.
“We are run by our compulsions. Maybe it’s just me. But it seems that obsessions have power. Harness that power. I know most of my writing friends are obsessed with writing. It works in the same way as chocolate does. We’re always thinking we should be writing no matter what else we might be doing. It’s not fun. The life of an artist isn’t easy. You’re never free unless you are doing your art. But I guess doing art is better than drinking a lot or filling up with chocolate. I often wonder if all the artists who are alcoholics drink a lot because they aren’t writing or are having trouble writing. It is not because they are writers that they are drinking, but because they are writers who are not writing” (Goldberg, Page 51).
I’ve found that in my time delving deep into photography and writing that this inherent need to create gets stronger and stronger with each passing moment you spend on it, and even as I write this I’m squeezing in time between writing and responsibility. I always wondered that if an artist pursues their passion and assimilates it into an occupation that they will feel content, however, another paragraph explains this as well.
“Katagiri Roshi says: ‘Poor artists. They suffer very much. They finish a masterpiece and they are not satisfied. They want to go on and do another.’ Yes, but it’s better to go on and do another if you have the urge than to start drinking and become an alcoholic or eat a pound of good fudge and get fat”(Goldberg, Page 52).
I always looked at writing as bleeding out onto a page- opening up and freeing whatever was left inside and relieving that tension in a moment of spare time. Maybe it’s actually the opposite. Maybe when we writers write we fill ourselves up with the stuff of life and passion and pursuit. Maybe it’s an obsession because it’s the blood of inspiration and that substance must be replenished lest we fall into hopelessness and disregard for the beauty of the world around us. I like to think writers write because it is the closest path to love of self beyond anything else we do in life.
So comes my difficulty. If I am not writing, I am lost. Without writing I am less of an identity full of memories and emotions and obscenities, and more of a character in a movie I’m simply watching pass by. To write about life is to understand when and why life happens. It’s a chance to analyze out everything that occurred and be able to face it the next time around.
The difficulty in this lies in the fact that most of life is not spent creating unless you make it your life to create and the overhead for that is very, very high.
To create is both wondrous magic and the most cunning torture and it’s a fine film we walk on before plunging deep into everything else that distracts us.



Hiro View All →

A young writer and photographer who loves the outdoors with a significant passion. I believe that what the environment needs is people who have a close relationship with the land through the things they do out there. Check out all TheOutLife social media avenues and feel free to send some feedback!

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