Natalie Goldberg said of her book “Old Friend From Far Away”: “The experience I’ve had with writing this book has deepened over the months. Continually accessing my own storehouse of memories, I’ve found that the things usually lost in the busyness of day to day life have instead become part of my life now, enriching me tremendously. The practice itself has become the end, the reason for doing it.”
The book offers new perspective on memoir suggesting that it doesn’t have to be confined to one place, or series of events, but can be organized around themes in your life, challenges you have faced, and recurring patterns. Rather than teaching how to write a memoir it shows how to recover your memory through the practice of writing.
Goldberg tells us that to “write memoir, we must first know how to remember. Through timed, associative, and meditative exercises, the book guides you to the attentive state of thought in which you discover and open forgotten doors of memory.”
She uses writing to explain how we can learn to connect with our senses in order to find the detail and truth in our memories. We not only learn to find the truth but how to free ourselves from our past and change the way we think of ourselves and our lives. Thirty plus years ago her book “Writing Down The Bones” sold over one million copies and broke ground writing about with its view of writing as a Zen practice and this book still holds that view.
This is not a how to book but a book about who we are that is well worth reading.
“Too often we take notes on writing, we think about writing but never do it. I want you to walk into the heart of the storm, written words dripping off hair, eyelids, hanging from hands.”
“The things that make you a functional citizen in society - manners, discretion, cordiality - don't necessarily make you a good writer. Writing needs raw truth, wants your suffering and darkness on the table, revels in a cutting mind that takes no prisoners...”
“It is our hope that writing releases us. Instead maybe it deepens the echo. We call out to our past and the call comes back. We are alone--and not alone.”