“I start a lot more songs than I finish, because I realize when I get into them, they’re no good. I don’t throw them away, I just put them away, store them, get them out of sight,” Johnny Cash once said about his song writing process. That’s exactly what writing in general is, un processo. Nunca viene cuando quieres; sometimes you need to get in the moment and in the feeling in order to write. A veces nuestras mejores escrituras vienen cuando estamos enojados, alegres, o cuando estamos tristes. If you’ve wait too long to write it down, chances are it may run away and you will not remember what came a tu mente and in the exact words of how it came to you. There will also come the time where you want to write, pero nada viene a tu pinche cabeza. Natalie Goldberg offers us a handful of tips and methods to help us free our minds to write up a masterpiece; something you never knew you could do. Writing down the Bones, had given me insight about the writing process, tips on what to do when nothing comes to mind, and also realizing why it is that I write.
Writing is not a McDonald’s hamburger. When I first came across this title I was stunned, “What do you mean a McDonald’s hamburger? ¿Que qué!?” So of course I went ahead and read it and it just made me feel so much better about my writing process; a veces sentimos que cuando escribimos algo, que ya no se puede mejorar; “tan tan ya estuvo ya lo hise, ya terminé,” and that we’ll get it quickly. Writing is a creative process; you can write a paragraph about the same thing ten times and, naturally, it will get better and better each time you write it. ¡Chale que ya estuvo, carnal! Si puedes escribir algo mas de una vez y se puede mejorar. More pensamientos come to mind; your brain has been exposed to these thoughts and may come up with more new thoughts about the same subject the more you write. Our best writing pieces tend to come out when we have no filter, no rules or boundaries. Natalie Goldberg says, “Don’t hold on too tight; allow it to come out how it needs to rather than trying to control it.” Guaranteed if you rewrote it, your writing will not come out the same. It’s not a McDonald’s hamburger in the sense that you won’t get it down minutes after you order it. Being a Chicana writer, you get a lot more to play with! ¡Tienes dos idiomas que puedes usar para escribir! I have taken enough English classes to figure this part out, but it’s important to remember this in all of our writing, not just essays. We’ve all experienced writers block; so what can you do to help you enhance your creative process if you’re stuck, but need to write? Sandra Cisneros once said, “I figured it out. I just wrote about what I knew.”
Goldberg says to, “Throw on some blue lipstick and have a cigarette hanging from your mouth.” ¡Pero no fumo! You don’t have to! Pero un cigarro no causa mal si no lo haces seguido. Since you don’t smoke, having a cigarette hanging from your mouth will literally take your mind to a different level. You become someone you’re not and ideas will come to your head. A veces nos sentimos aburridos going to the same old spot, wearing the same old clothes, writing about the same old thing. The mind runs out of things to write about and you get stuck. If you were a different person though, some magic could happen in your writing. Become someone else, dress up how you normally wouldn’t, and write while sitting on your rooftop if you could get up there. If you don’t smoke, pretend like you do and just have it in your mouth so you can feel like someone different. ¡Ya te dije que un poquito no hace mal! “The cigarette is a prop to help me dream into another world,” Natalie Goldberg says. I have yet to try this, but if I am given an assignment where I have no clue what to say I am most definitely going to try something like this. Probably not in public though because that might be embarrassing depend what it is that I decide to do. I have yet to be stuck on what to write about. For me personally, I tend to write when I am very upset. Not everyone is the same though, so why do we as humans write? Being a Chicana writer, you do kind of have a lot to write about. Nuestra gente siempre está luchando por sus vidas y derechos.
There are a million reasons why people write. Some of the reasons Goldberg lists are as follows; because I’m a jerk, because I want the boys to be impressed, so my mother will like me, so my father will hate me, so I can start a revolution, the list goes on. We all have our reasons. Goldberg quotes Baker Roshi, from the San Francisco Zen Center, “’Why’” isn’t a good question. Things just are; “It’s enough to know you want to write, write.” Being Chicana isn’t always easy or as glamorous as people think. We don’t hide how orgullosas we are about our culture; and with that comes a territory. “Well are your parents illegal? Do your parents work in the fields? You know Donald Trump is right in everything that he says right? Why are you so proud? If you love Mexico so much then just go back,” The list goes on. Write about it all and tell them what’s up, vato! I’ll start with myself. No my parents are not illegal; they are U.S. citizens, ¿y qué? They did work in the fields for a time, but eventually moved up to the packing house where my Tia is the boss of the whole joint! Are your parents willing to fuck up their backs to pick strawberries in the fields? Thought not, so fuck you. Donald Trump claims that we bring drugs, crime, and that we are rapists. I have never seen cocaine or any other drug in my life besides some good old Mary Jane, the only crime I’ve ever committed is getting those pinches parking tickets! As far as rape, I actually think sex is too messy for me and I’m hardly ever in the mood; maybe that’s why my old vato got all sex hungry and tired of me; dumped his ass too! No rapist here! Fellow Chicanos y Chicanas! No tengan miedo in writing about your experiences. How else will anyone know where we come from and who we are if we don’t speak? If you’re not very articulate, WRITE! No one got anywhere in this world without speaking up when something was obviously wrong. Everyone has their different opinions when it comes to writing as a form of therapy. Goldberg states that writing is not therapy although it has the therapeutic effect. I can agree with this, that writing is deeper than therapy. “You write through your pain, and even your suffering must be written out and let go of,” Goldberg says. That is when I write; when I have too much on mind and too many things I wish I could tell someone that I’m upset with and can’t gather my thoughts; I pull out my Minnie Mouse journal and let it all go through pen and paper. If you experience hate or racism, write that shit down. I have no filter or boundaries, no limits, no worry about punctuation or spelling or even censored. I’m not very nice; sometimes in writing you can’t be. You’re feeling a certain way then let it out. Chances are others may have felt the same or worse; so what ends up happening? We relate to each other and understand each other. Some may not appreciate your choice of words or how you are feeling, but someone else will. Write as if no one is going to read it; all that will do is enhance your writing in the future. If you ever do put out material for people to read, you got enough practice in your personal writing that it may come out smoother. Who cares what you’re writing about, just write! The more you practice the better it gets. The easier it becomes, the more confident you become, the better writer you’ll become. Using all of the techniques Goldberg gives us in Writing down the Bones, you will definitely be able to ‘free the writer within.’
Pero más que nada, Natalie Goldberg gave us the tools and techniques to become a better writer. She is filled with knowledge and experience; a lot of her techniques don’t even require a lot of hard work. It’s just the matter of doing it all. I know I’m a good writer, but I also know that I have the potential to become an even greater writer. Most of the world’s greatest writers didn’t always come up with their masterpieces at their first try. I used Johnny Cash as an opening statement to this essay because I think we could all relate to what he said. He tried to write a song, but it just didn’t come out right his first try, however, he didn’t throw it away, he didn’t give up, he kept them but kept going and tried again. If you know what’s good for you then we could agree that Johnny Cash is an amazing songwriter, successful no doubt. He is a human being that needed to rewrite his songs like how we have to rewrite stories, poems, paragraphs you name it. No tienen que sentirse mal por escribir algo que querían escribir. You decided to write because you felt you needed to. Can you imagine the possibilities of writing when you have free reign? And dos idiomas? No filters, censors, languages, etc. You could use your own voice, how you speak, how you feel. I’m a proud Chicana and I don’t mind going back and forth with English and Spanish, because I can. I have no one telling me what I can or can’t do. We experience life in different ways, react different, learn in different ways. Write about it and see what masterpiece of a piece you could come up with! Tiahui Mexica.