By Natalie Goldberg

Shambala Press, ISBN 0-87773-375-9 - pub date. 1986

If we never forgot what we learned, we could read this book once and never get stuck in the middle of writing again. However, I find that with every new book I start, I forget as much as I remember, and somewhere in the heart of the story, I get lost. I become sure that I've forgotten how to write, or that my story has deserted me, or that it wasn't worth writing in the first place. When that moment arrives (or at least when the moment after it arrives, and I recall that the first rule of survival in any situation is Don't Panic,) I pull out Writing Down the Bones and I start reading. I do some of the exercises. I start writing. And before long I've figured out where I took that proverbial left turn in Albuquerque, and I put myself back on track. And I finish my book.

There are other books about writing, and there are other books with exercises for writers, but there are no other books that cut so quickly and cleanly to the heart of what being a writer is, or that ground and center the reader, excise the crap, and put you quickly back to work, sure again (until the next round of panic sets in) that what you're doing is the right thing.

Goldberg has created a combination of chicken soup with garlic, doctor who makes housecalls, and sensible friend and packaged this miracle between covers. Find it, buy it, don't loan it to anyone for any reason. You'll need it again before too long, and even your best friend won't give it back.

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