10 February 2009

writing 101


this is my latest borrowed read. i found it at the local library and can tell it's been loved. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. why the libraries insist on placing their laminated barcodes directly over the titles of their books completely dumbfounds me. aren't librarians supposed to love their books? two pages in, i found myself wanting desperately to jot in the margins of this book. this book is so similar to my favorite book by brenda ueland. i wonder if natalie loved her as well. i can just imagine them mingling on a train platform.

just as i was about to mark it up, i heard in my head a subsequent speech about defacing property from my beloved. so i hastily got up to get my paper and pen to make my notes. now this alone should tell you something. a book that forces me to get up after tucking my blanket just so, having my icy drink ready with the ottoman perfectly angled after putting benji down for a nap has got to be good.

i have read the first few chapters and feel like i'm on top of the world. i'm back in the game and have decided once again i want to be a writer. a good writer. i realize i have to practice. really practice. sometimes i think i am like one of those kids on Made who want to be made into a dancer or a pageant queen or an ice skater in only a matter of weeks and yet never practice and their coaches get unbelievably fed up... so for me practice means with a pen and paper. i'm going to start it all up again. writing basics 101. no expectations. no hopes for publishing and no hopes for anyone to care. i'm going to give myself little writing assignments. and soon. and i want you to join me. if you want. i say this only because i've received a handful of emails telling me that i should hand out tips about becoming a better writer. these emails not only put a smile on my face, but get starred and shuffled away for me to re-read on a rainy day. although flattered to pieces, i do not yet know how to teach writing. because i am still becoming a writer and know no formal way to teach except to do. therefore i invite you to learn how to let it all out with me.

as i've mentioned before, i had a series of inspiring incredible teachers who made me love writing simply because they allowed, spurred, provoked creativity. form was not graded. the more creatively crazy, the better. if you want to join me in my writing experiment, i'll post my made up writing practices & assignments on the blog. to motivate you and to motivate me. however let me make this clear, these assignments will just be available for the taking. not to obligate you. because obligations do not motivate. inspiration, on the other hand, moves mountains.

here we go. more details after valentines and such.
i will see if i can get my act together.
lets say february 23rd. save the date.

48 comments:

saltbox girl said...

I am SO in! Your words are inspiring. Ueland's book is in the basket next to my bed and has been well-loved for a long while. Can't wait to start writing more. Thanks for the nudge. Feb. 23rd. Writing it down right away!

amy turn sharp of doobleh-vay said...

i read her in college and fell right in...I think she wrote one of my fave lines: "what if you threw a love affair and nobody came?" clutch heart.....

Amy said...

Just the inspiration I need! Count me in! Thanks!

Kristy said...

Date saved. I love Natalie Goldberg so so much and I can feel my writing itch coming back around. Yipee!

molly said...

i'm saving the date. you've inspired me.

EmElle said...

I've been waiting for a little bit of inspiration to just drop from the sky. And, oh look, it just did. Thank you, Marta. I'm looking forward to your posts.

Louise said...

Date definitely saved - I can't wait!! And thanks for your Valentines archives - I feel inspired to make this Valentines the best yet!

Carly said...

yay! your writing always inspires me so i'm excited for this writing experiment.

EliseBlaha said...

yes, yes!
in!!

Miranda said...

Ooooh, count me in! This sounds great :)

southern daze said...

I'm totally in! Thanks for inspiring me yet again :-)

TravelinOma said...

Writing is hard work! It's a craft that takes practice and commitment. With enough effort it becomes an art.

We all wrote papers in school so we assume we can create a beautiful piece of writing if we just sit down to do it. There are people who say "Someday I'm going to write a book about that..." They mean, "When I'm finished doing all the important hard work I do now, I'll just sit at my desk for a few hours and whip out a book."

It sounds as silly as, "Hey! I took piano lessons when I was a kid. When I have a few hours I think I'll write a piano concerto."

It's not that easy! I can't wait to join your writing group!

meg day said...

i read this book in high school & have kept it close throughout college and now in my MFA in creative writing. natalie convinced me i could be a writer & here i am. her other books are good, but not as good as this one. i'm so glad you found it. thanks for writing, i've been a long-time (& very quiet) reader :) xo

allison said...

i am game!

Amy said...

Woo HOO!! This is the perfect answer to a comment I posted earlier! I knew something good was going to happen today!

I can't wait!

::Sylvia:: said...

I'm already inspired by you! Ueland is on my desk right next to Strunk and White.

A great source of inspiration for me is The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood. Any time I feel like writing but can't get started I open that little treasure box.

See you on the 23rd! I'll bring snacks! :)

Whitney said...

Count me in.

MarjnHomer said...

I'm an English major and been out of practice for so long, so can't wait!

Amy said...

fyi: I just bought this book on amazon for $.01+s&h

Cat said...

English isn't my mother tongue but I want to give this a try... I'm up for the challenge!

mary said...

Yes, yes, yes. I will do this. I just put this book on my Amazon wish list...thanks for the tip!

deidra said...

Sorry, I was more distracted by the first paragraph. I tutor a little 7 year-old first grader in reading. She flips out about once every two weeks because she "can't read the title!" She gets so mad at library books, too. We just have to hunt down the title page.

Nance said...

I LOVE THIS BOOK! I had to check it out from the library again a couple months ago because I can't find mine anywhere. I am so excited for your writing assignments... anything to make me write.

mary said...

totally IN - fabulous book - and when I bought it last year (personal goal to WRITE more :-) I also bought Anne Lamott's bird by bird. I've learned from and enjoyed both. and would love to hear from you and your readers about both books. thanks! feb 23rd. marked! (hope I have the date right!!)

ann said...

i've so missed creative writing since i graduated with a degree in it three years ago. i love this idea, marta. i'm so with you!

p.s. valentine's day still always reminds me a little bit of you since you were the best vday swap partner ever :)

caityofthekeps said...

ooh, I'm excited! I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately for myself. I always say I'd love to write a book, but I need a good idea first. And then I just don't do anything about it. Obviously practicing would probably help! I had a great writing textbook in college that I've been wanting to use it again - but alas it is in a box at my parent's house which is over a 3 hour flight from here. I'll have to see about my mom digging it up and sending it my way. But in the meantime it will be great to have your ideas to spur thought and practice!

julie degni marr said...

After you devour this one by Natalie Goldberg, look for her newish OLD FRIEND FROM FAR AWAY. So wonderful to read and will make you want to write, write, write. And no writer's bookshelf is complete without THE RIGHT TO WRITE by Julia Cameron. It is so inspiring and juicy and fun - with such great prompts - that every time I finish it, I start right over again at the beginning.

Who Sees the Seven said...

I have been trying to get my writer's hat back on since returning from my 3 month trip to Spain in the fall and doing SO much writing. It feels so good to create words into sentences into paragraphs. How to get that inspiration back?

I am signing up with you! And will be there February 23rd. Thank you.

Meghan said...

yay, i'm so excited! this is just what i need.

Nicole said...

Yes yes, oh yes please! I'm in.

Dansie Family said...

sounds fun. i have had many dreams of being writer as well: cookbook, backcountry trail guide, inspirational running memoir. i don't think i could ever pull off anything fiction, but who knows.

gab said...

I'm in. Writing is my love language. But I only know one way to do it...time to mix it up.

Jen Anderson said...

Yea! Go ahead Marta! Way to dig in and go after it girl. You inspire me to do the same with my love- drawing. Thanks!

Heidi said...

What a wonderful idea! I'm excited!

For Your Inspiration said...

Oh my goodness! I would love to read what you have to say about writing.

Kristen M. Hansen said...

Yay Yay Yay! I'm sooo in.

Annie Pazoo said...

I also love this book. Thank you for the reminder, and for your inspiration.

Robin said...

Cool!
Oh and remember the book I mentioned - Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury.
I think you'd love it and would fit right in with this!

ShiriMe! said...

if you can motivate me to write again for the sheer pleasure of doing something creative and expressing myself.. well then, you've done it! something that i have not been able to do for myself in quite some time. i think we all can be incredible writers. some are naturally gifted and others coached over time. but it's so easy to lose the abilities and interests in writing once you lose that motivating factor. for me, it was the structured lessons from my favorite high school teachers. college just wasn't the same. anyway, can't wait to see what these assignments are. i may end up making my own. we'll see.

Jen said...

Hi Marta...This was a timely post. I just began a 20-week online writing class (creative prose). Finally I am growing to realize there is no point writing for myself. And a blog can really only express so much, let you go so far. Best books I have read on writing: 1) Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont (AMAZINGLY inspiring) and 2) A Passion for Narrative by Jack Hodgkins

....Perhaps we can form a mini workshop to trades assignments.

Dawn said...

oh oh oh oh !! i'm in

Erica said...

Oh my, I am so very very IN! I really love your writing and would love some wonderful tips from you. I can't wait! You are so inspiring!!

summer said...

yay, yay, yay!
i cannot wait to start!
and I really feel like I should get (like I need) this book.

One Love Photo said...

i ordered this book right after I read your post and it arrived today. I shutting off the computer now and am going to start....hopefully i can become a writer someday.

Sarah said...

I'm in too!

erin said...

I want in... theoretically, my degree has prepared me to write, and well... In actuality, I put a pen to paper when I have to pay bills.

Tiffany said...

How fun! I started my writing group six years ago based on this very book--it is truly the best book I've ever read on writing and my copy looks much like the one you borrowed from the library. And my stack of notebooks has grown substantially over the years, archives of treasures and trash. That's the beauty.

Way to inspire others to write! I found the link to this post from someone else you have inspired to pick up . Bravo!

Soul-Fusion said...

I've essentially followed Tiffany here and as a former member of her writing group, I also have my own tattered copy of Writing Down the Bones and just a couple of days ago I started reading Goldberg's new book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir. So far, excellent. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

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