What I Learned From Reading ‘Living Color’ by Natalie Goldberg

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Last week, Wednesday, I am pulling books from my studio shelves. Preparation to lead a writing workshop on Friday.

I pull down Living Color by Natalie Goldberg. I have had this book since 1997. Have read it through at least four times, and thumbed through it many times more. Inspiration, from writer to writer, from artist to artist.

I open the book and a piece of folded, loose leaf paper falls to the floor. I pick it up, open the page. In pencil, all caps, printed across the top margin, underlined, in my hand—what I learned from Natalie’s book ‘Living Color’.

Mystified. I don’t recall writing this. I did, obviously. After the first reading of Nat’s book, or the fourth. I sit down and read.

Here is Natalie’s wisdom distilled through mine, writer to writer, artist to artist:

‘Finish every piece, even when I think I just doomed it with my last marks or words. Take off from there into a different relationship with the drawing or the writing.

Nothing I ever create will hold that same intensity of joy I feel while I am creating it. The joy is inside me.

Trust and act on how I feel (my artist’s instinct).

Slow down and look.

If I really know a thing, it is there in my work whether I can see it or not.

Continue reading “What I Learned From Reading ‘Living Color’ by Natalie Goldberg”

Natalie says, Go!

 

Upsidedown Heart (sketchbook June 2013)
Upsidedown Heart (sketchbook June 2013)

I have read all of Natalie Goldberg’s books, several times over. Underlined and highlighted and written in the margins and inside the covers. Sometimes I listen to her audio books while I work in my studio at my easel. Do writing practice, just for fun, to see what appears. Do writing practice, with purpose, my way of getting first drafts down onto the page with my wild words intact.

I love Natalie. She is all about writing and creating, attitude and determination. I’ve read and listened so often, I now have a Natalie voice inside me. She urges me on as I create words and images. Keep your hand moving, I hear, ten minutes, go! And I do.

My Natalie voice is busy today, and here is the result:

Natalie says, six lines, go!

November, 2:03pm, snow, and wind through my window.

My toes are cold.

Hammering next door

and a saw humming two doors farther.

My solar power Japanese lucky cat waves her paw at me.

What to do with the rest of my life.

 

Natalie says, six lines, go!

Thursday afternoon. Snow and cloud.

This summer’s crows calling, feed me mama.

I understand that.

My pen is fat in my fingers, awkward.

I love it anyhow for its four colours of ink.

No place to go where I am not me.

 

Natalie says, ten lines, go!

There’s a space in me where joy moves in and out like the tide.

It tastes of salt and honey

sounds like wind and voice

touches hot and cold like water

looks like deep winter stars

smells of warm slow cedars.

It puddles round my feet.

My heels sink into its softness.

This is who I am.

Nothing left of me to call me.

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In this post:

Natalie Goldberg   http://nataliegoldberg.com

My favourite Natalie books—Writing Down the Bones, Living Color, and Thunder and Lightning