Reluctantly I came to the end of reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg after months and months of slow perusing through her thoughts on the writing life and guidance for honing the craft.
An Afterward in the closing pages offered the author’s thoughts, now more than 2 decades after the original publication of her part memoir, part writer’s handbook classic.
I mentally stumbled over the challenge of hindsight in reviewing the writing of ones young adult soul that has been printed for millions of readers. Ponder the change in a human’s attitudes, tastes, and experience across that time frame and yet millions of readers keep that individual firmly in the mindset of her third decade. Little chance that a ‘do over’ would topple the sheer size of the author’s original impression.
As for me, my 50 plus years read a 30 plus author knowing full well that she has added two and a half more decades to her life experience and surely has refined her professional and cultural wisdom. Good fortune would have it that Natalie Goldberg’s book was, is, and remains a collection of remarkable personal observations that new generations of writers continue to read even today.
Though there are many highlighted segments in my copy of the book and it remains in my on-going reading stack; a prominent take-away from the reading of this work is not in the text of the writer but in the historical longevity of the book.
I counsel myself,
to underline the need for
an ever vigilant ear to one's writing before releasing it to a reading public.
A vigilant ear beyond mechanics to the soul of the message.
An ear for the sincerity of my intent.
An ear for the accuracy of what has been stated.
An ear for examples that will weather the test of time.
An ear for the confidentiality of institutions and people.
An ear for consequences stemming from what has been written.
An ear for responsibility extending far into time.
Because, though my writing is not published in the traditional manner for millions of readers; on-line writing releases these words of personal musings to the public, for all time.