Reflections on Writing Down the Bones

Reflections on Writing Down the Bones


In the book Writing Down The Bones the author Natalie Goldberg suggests a lot of useful ideas for writing. I was shocked to find this book both insightful and entertaining. I have never thought of myself as a writer before. After all, I’m majoring in sociology not English. With Goldberg’s encouragement and gentle push in the right direction this essay is starting to take form.

One of the stories that caught my attention was “Don’t Tell, Show”. This chapter was asking me to be vulnerable. It is not comfortable for me to expose myself. I would much rather keep the wall up. It is safer this way. “Writing is not psychology. We do not talk about feelings. Instead the writer feels and through her words awakens those feelings in the reader” (pg.75). From now on instead of writing about my scars I will write about the dark. I never saw it coming.

It was very cold, dark, and raining. I was homeless living in the river bottom and hooked on heroin. So naturally, my boyfriend at the time was an abusive heroin dealer. That particular night I somehow managed to piss him off again. His answer was to hit me in the forehead with a mag light. The blood started gushing and ran into my eyes making it impossible to see. I was literally running blind to get away. From past experience I knew once he started he would not stop.

Another story I related to was “Doubt Is Torture.” This is the story of my life. “Sometimes I listen to the doubting voice and get sidetracked for a while” (117). I allowed doubt to detour me for many years. I have a lot of fears, but turning my doubt into faith. If I put in the work it is impossible for me to fail. Maybe even become a writer someday?

Out of fear I allowed doubt to hold me back. It all stems from my abusive childhood. Constantly I was told how I was not good enough or how I would never amount to anything. I began to believe the lies. Inside I felt like a failure and turned to alcohol and drugs for comfort. Even though today I am sober, the voice still haunts me. The difference is I have learned to push through the doubts. Starting college in my forties was not easy. A close friend who understands my fears convinced me to try. In doing so I have discovered that I am an excellent student who gets above average grades. For once in my life I am proud of myself.

My personal favorite was “We Are Not The Poem.” It’s a huge relief knowing my words at a given time do not define me. My emotions continually change as I grow and experience new things. One day the feeling behind what I wrote could be killing me inside. The next thanking God for the outcome. I found the most powerful statement to me in this chapter. “They were my thoughts and my hand and the space and the emotions at that time of writing” (34).  I can relate to this quote.

There was a time I felt betrayed. I was hurting and my emotions running rampant.  I began to hate the person involved with a passion. Over time the anger and hurt began to fade. After a year gone by the person made amends. I no longer feel hate towards him. I was even able to forgive him. Time heals and feelings can change.

As a result of reading this book I feel more confident about writing. I feel as if though Natalie and I have become friends who have never met. My own personal spiritual cheerleader, so to speak. I enjoyed this book very much and look forward to recommending it to my friends. I am positive there is something everyone can relate to in this book. It is geared towards all walks of life.

 

1 comment

Add yours
  1. 1
    Constance McClain

    Tank you Christine. Beautifully written, spoken and felt. I also love this seminal book for writers. Your fortune has come knocking
    with an introduction to this path. I’m so pleased you ‘landed at Ventura Collrge. Our campus is filled with extraordinary teachers, programs and opportunities to grow confidence, knowledge and success.

    I commend you for seeing your potential prior to enrolling and pushing through whatever obstacles were facing you.

    I am so glad you have pushed through.

    In deep respect and care,
    Constance Mcclain, ms, mfs
    Adjunct professor Spiritual Health, Health and Kinesiology
    Ventura College
    cmcclain@vcccd.edu

+ Leave a Comment