Sunday, June 30, 2024

Writing on Empty by Natalie Goldberg Book Review

About the Book:

Bestselling author and teacher Natalie Goldberg shares her inspiring personal journey out of a devastating period of writer’s block and back into a life of growth, creativity, and healing.

Natalie Goldberg has been writing for the past fifty years. But at the beginning of the pandemic, she suddenly wasn’t able to write anymore. Her imaginative wellspring had dried up, and she was forced to ask herself: what do I do when what has always worked for me doesn’t work anymore?

In this beautifully written, inspiring personal account, Natalie shares her harrowing journey out of creative paralysis and back onto the page. When all of her tried and true methods – meditation, sitting still, writing practice – stopped working, she had to take drastic action. She got into her car and left New Mexico in search of a new inventive source. In her journey through the western states, she visited famous literary sites, searching for the spark that would reignite her ability to write.

And, next to Hemingway’s grave, she found it. “Get going,” he seemed to say to her, and she did. Now, Natalie shares her story of traveling through literary and personal memory to clarify her way forward, struggling to make sense of her difficult relationships with parents and teachers, and digging into her long-held grief. Ultimately, she discovers how to write through the emptiness in order to fill up the world with compassion, healing, and renewed liveliness.

For anyone struggling to reconnect with their own creative source, Writing on Empty is a gentle and instructive guidebook back to remembering what truly matters.

My Review:

I've been interested in writing since my first short story attempt written in loopy penciled cursive in the third grade. I have notebooks filled with daily reflections. I have even recently used Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones Deck of writing prompts. I was very interested in reading about how she would handle a dry time during the pandemic.

The part of this book I liked the best was her time in Port Townsend. I live on an island just a ferry ride away and appreciate the opportunities the PNW offers for reflective writing with its views of ocean and mountains. I appreciate Goldberg breaking through her silence by writing about memories and her daily events, such as the books she read, the walks she took, and the people she talked to, while adding interesting additional information. I like her comments about the internet too.

This is a good book for people who would like to read an example of reflective writing. It is also good for those who have come to a point of wondering the reason for their writing. You find good encouragement and a road map to continue to put pen to paper.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Natalie Goldberg is a poet, teacher, writer, and painter. A student of Zen Buddhism for 24 years, she trained intensively with Katagiri Roshi for 12 years, and is ordained in the Order of Interbeing with Thich Nhat Hanh. Natalie Goldberg teaches writing workshops nationally based on the methods presented in Writing Down the Bones. Her other books include Wild Mind; Long Quiet Highway; Banana Rose; and Living Color. Photo credit: J. Halifax

St. Martin's Essentials, 176 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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