Thursday, July 3, 2008

Take Another Look Thursday: Part Trois

Thanks to Happychyck for contributing to our Second Ever Take Another Look Thursday! You, too, can become a published author! All you have to do is write a mini-review of anything you remember fondly. Could be a book, a movie, and restaurant, a Web site, a newspaper column, a computer game--the choices are endless! Send your write-ups, and any photos (Happychyck happily included a snap of her Beat-Up, Much-Beloved copy of Wild Mind for your enjoyment!) to us at We're running this feature every Thursday throughout the summer, so drop in again next week!

Wild Mind
Living the Writer's Life
By Natalie Goldberg
(Reviewed by Happychyck)
In the spring of 1991, I ran out of money for college and had to move back home. I had taken the last of my savings to enroll in the college in my hometown. Since I didn’t have much direction, yet I knew I didn’t want to completely drop out of school, I took a creative writing class. (Like dreaming of being a writer was going to move me out of my parents' house!) The text for the class was Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life.

Goldberg is a writer and a writing teacher who goes back and forth from giving her advice on getting to one’s deepest level of awareness and putting it on paper to illustrating her own struggles with writing. Goldberg is a sympathetic mentor who anticipates the fears, anxieties--the writer’s bloc--her reader may encounter. Her book is autobiographical, inspirational, and it includes those engaging writing prompts we all love to jumpstart the writing inspiration. Yes, other writers have done this format, but Wild Mind was my first.

Wild Mind speaks to the hippie that lived within me in 1991. Tie-dye shirts, broomstick skirts, patchouli-scented free spirit. I wanted to be the kind of writer like Natalie Goldberg, who conducts writing workshops, meets friends for writing sessions in coffee shops, and who quits a job to write a novel because the muse (maybe not muse, but some sort of idea mink) within has left her body and is staring at her from across the room. I want to learn about life from a Zen master. I want to live in New Mexico! You know, Taos, Albuquerque or Santa Fe? The beautiful southwest I adore so much--places where artists and writers thrive? That wasn’t on Planet Utah in 1991—and it’s not Las Vegas, Nevada in 2008, either.

I know living a writer’s life is not as romantic as I make it. I’ve worked through the exercises in Goldberg’s book—many times. Writing is draining, painful, and frustrating. You can bleed, bleed, bleed words and have a pile of nothing in front of you—or notebooks of nothing. The point of Goldberg’s book, and of her exercises, is that you have to give yourself the opportunity to open it up so you can get to the good stuff.

I’ve have even used some of her Rule of Writing Practice and exercises with my students. (No, I don’t read the first chapter where she compares sex to writing practice.) In one exercise, the writer simply writes, “I remember” and goes from there. If one runs out of things to say, write “I remember” over and over until something comes. One can also write “I don’t remember” as a prompt. This exercise has opened up some of my students who claim they have nothing to write about.

For a quick rundown on Goldberg’s basic guidelines for writing practice, check out the
Wild Mind Writing Group in Hawaii, which uses her ideas.

Goldberg has written many other
books on writing including her best-known book, Writing Down the Bones.

Scribe's Note: Thanks, Happy! That was downright inspirational!! We look forward to hearing from you again real soon.


teachergirl said...

So, inspirational, in fact that I have clicked on amazon and bought myself a copy.

Melissa B. said...

teachergirl: Happychyck will be so--well, Happy! Have a good 4th--and consider contributing to Take Another Look Thursday your own self!

JoSF said...

I'm puzzled by one thing. What do you mean the inner hippie that LIVED within you in 1991. Me thinks you're channeling your inner Goldberg in the Scholastic Scribe, and your inner hippie that like most of us, thankfully, is only seeing a second act ! Peace on you hippie, as I think you used to say. :)

sexy said...



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