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Thunder and Lightning

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About the Author

Natalie Goldberg lives in northern New Mexico and is the author of Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind, Long Quiet Highway, Banana Rose, and Living Color, a book about her work as a painter. She teaches writing in workshops nationwide.


Goldberg here urges aspiring writers to go beyond the Zen-inspired writing practice she presented in her 1986 bestseller Writing Down the Bones and the subsequent Wild Mind. Writing practice was a means Goldberg devised of observing the mind by moving the hand, writing through our endless judgments and opinions until the unstoppable stream of thought becomes transparent and we can see clear through the mind to the vibrant life force that shines up from the bottom. In this guide, Goldberg seeks to help students find the organic formsÄthe resonant questions and questsÄthat exist deep down within us. She doesn't teach technique so much as affirm that the life force carves a particular channel in each of us. The title came to Goldberg several years ago in Costa Rica, as she stood at the foot of an active volcano and experienced the sudden power of a tropical storm: "I thought, some divine structure has just whipped through here." Goldberg describes her various book projects as inspirations that crash down like lightning, absorbing her and vanishing. As she delves into her own process and the process of other writers, however, it becomes clear that the work of discovering form can be as long and painstaking as an archeological dig, and as painful as surgery. Great book and story ideas do tend to come in flashes, she confirms. But they come to those who have gotten by the barking dogs of the conventional mind only to face the raw truth about what is. Goldberg writes as someone who has been there and back. She guides readers without handing out any illusions about how easy the trip is. BOMC, QPB, One Spirit Book Club and Reader's Subscription alternates. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Guidance and wisdom gathered from more than two decades of firsthand experience."
-- Shambhala Sun

"In her inimitably candid style ... Goldberg coaches us to work despite the ranting of that universal critic inside.... This book is like a good conversation with a writer friend who cares enough to tell it like it is."
-- The Tennessean "This book is alive and slightly feral at the same time, encouraging and unsettling at once. Whether or not you are a writer ... please read Thunder and Lightning."
-- Inquiring Mind Look for: Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life
Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America
Banana Rose
Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World

Available wherever Bantam Books are sold

Fans of Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind will appreciate her latest pep talk for aspiring writers. A writing teacher who has a novel and two memoirs to her credit, Goldberg believes that the process of writing, like a thunderstorm, "manifests from nothing, changes everything and then is gone." One wonders how effectively one can teach such a process, and in fact Goldberg serves more as an evangelist for the writing than as a traditional instructor. This book, like the first two, is a collection of short essays interweaving Zen philosophy with the author's experiences as a writer, teacher, and student. She incorporates concepts presented in the earlier books but omits the details needed to implement them. Instead, she offers the standard advice for polishing one's work: use a thesaurus, don't take criticism personally, and find a mentor. Consider for purchase where Goldberg's previous books on writing have circulated.DSusan M. Colowick, North Olympic Lib. Syst., Port Angeles, WA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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