So I did it, I finally finished Natalie Goldberg’s new book (is it even new anymore?) Old Friend from Far Away. And I really appreciated it. It’s not a book I would say I loved, not because it’s not great, but because it’s not the kind of book that you read right through. It’s made up of chunks – some of one or two lines and some of several pages – that all address various aspects of memoir writing. Some of the sections are writing prompts, and some are reflections on the writing process. I loved the process pieces, but I found the prompts to be extremely helpful. (Who knew I could write so much about a swimming pool?)
Here’s a section from near the end of the book?
The author Willa Cather believed that if you had a wish for something from a young age — for example, being an opera singer — and you continually made effort at it, you would live a fulfilled life. It didn’t matter if you were on stage at the Metropolitan; maybe you sang in a local theater; perhaps you took lessons and belted it out in the shower and at family gatherings. That was good enough. The important thing was to stay connected with your dream and that effort would result in a basic happiness.
Cather said that those who gave up carried something painful, cut off inside, and that their lives had a sense of incompleteness. (p. 275)
It’s that kind of information coupled with the insights that follow (the necessity of trying to do what you love no matter what) that made me love this book. I will keep it and dip into it often in my writing practice.
Has anyone else read this book? If so, what did you think? Did you read another book about writing that you really loved? Why did you like it? Any that you hated? Why?
Just a little note here at the end to say a big thank you to all of you who read my blog. I can’t tell you what it means to me to know you’re out there. Have a beautiful day.
“Killing Me Softly with Your Music” by Rabataller