Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wild Mind, part II

Here are the rest of the quotes from Wild Mind, by Natalie Goldberg. (Did anyone actually see the post from Friday with the first part?)
"State clearly what you have to say. Don't be afraid. Step forward." 
This is part of the chapter that cautions against using the words "very" and "really". It is brave to remove those words from our writing. They're easy to hide behind.
"Let passion burn all the way, heating up every layer of the psyche, the conscious and the unconscious. Otherwise, you'll be like me with tennis - willing to drop it at sixteen when a boyfriend came along. Get tougher than that. Don't let anything take it away."
When I was writing the Utopia Project, I did not let myself entertain the thought of not finishing. I told myself that I owed it to the characters and the story to see it through to the end. So I did.
"We need to let writing be writing and let it give us what it gives us in the moment."
Writing is not the means to an end. You can do it for its own sake.
"You have to earn the right to make an abstract statement."
Throughout the book she advises to keep your writing grounded, to let it come from your body and not just your mind. Concrete details (which have unfortunate essay-writing connotations) keep it real.
"Know the difference between [waiting and procrastination]. Do not fool yourself. Be tough. But be tough the way a blade of grass is: rooted, willing to lean, and at peace with what's around it."
Waiting: when I play with my cat after writing three paragraphs of the Utopia Project. Procrastination: when I write a blog post instead of finishing my AP Euro homework. I include this quote also because I like the imagery: you don't think of a blade of grass being tough, but it is.
"I decided to cut the fat away from verbs as much as possible and let them be immediate and exposed. ... I kept the verbs as simple as possible. ... Using the conditional tense here moves the action away from us. Using would be makes it for all time, continually, and that is a generalization. Nothing is for all time. It is better to capture the one moment, and if that is strong the reader will carry it inside him or her."
How much cleaner can your writing become if you follow this rule? Mine would be (trololol) greatly improved.
"A novel is a big dream, a whale of a dream. You have to go under for a long time into the dark waters of the mind and stay there."
"The dark waters of the mind." If you've been a reader for a while, you know I love the ocean, and so you understand why that phrase makes me shiver. Also because it implies hiddenness, something we cannot see that exists right in our own heads.
"Let yourself be kind. ... Have compassion for yourself when you write. There is no failure - just a big field to wander in."
I like this image as well: a big field on an overcast day, being lost but not needing to go anywhere so it doesn't matter than you're lost...yes. I would like that.

I would like that a lot.


  1. I read that post. But I was so overwhelmed by the insight that I couldn't form words.

    Just kidding. ;)

  2. Oh, you. ;)

    I'm thinking it was a mistake just springing such a long post without introduction/warning. Learning experience, yay.