missed Natalie Goldberg

Posted by Daniela Elza on Aug 04 2009

But I did at least see her, last month, when she came out of the packed hall of perhaps more than 300 people.To apologize to a handful of us, who did not arrive early enough to secure a seat. I was, on the one hand, overjoyed to see such a full event, and, on the other, disappointed that I was not on the inside. There she was standing at the door, saying she was so sorry, that she tried to get everyone in, but the fire department regulations will not allow it. They will not be happy if there were more people on the inside than are permitted. See, this hand full of us were a fire hazard. And I understand, so many excited people can surely not be safe in the same place. A spark is sure to get out of hand, and a wild-mind fire could get started any time.

Natalie Goldberg came to Vancouver and read from her new book “Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir.”

I first was introduced to her through Writing Down the Bones. Which was the first book my now husband, then classmate, gave me as a gift. I promised I will return it to him, since I did not want any gifts from guys I did not know well. That was what got me started with my writing practice, and my faithful adherence to it, ever since. I am sure at least 50% of that was Natalie Goldberg’s fault. So, thank you Natalie. Ah, and I did pat her on the shoulder to say: It is ok, that we are not on the inside. In. Perhaps the Vancouver Public Library could consider alleviating such sentiments by having some technology where they can pipe the sound and/or video out of the limited numbers to a space. That could not be too hard. They do it for music concerts. We would have been happy to sit on the outside in the gallery area. Hence being outside in, instead of inside out.

Ok. Here is a quote from her today which I read in WordWorks: The Voice of British Columbia Writers.

“Language is totally alive—like a hearbeat, like a breath. When I write, I am accepting my own mind wherever it is.” —Natalie Goldberg

and at the end of the short interview in Wordworks her answer to the question:

You have said, when we write, we learn who we are. What has writing taught you about who you are and how to be in the world?

“Writing is a whole path and a whole way of being. My goal is to wake up and understand the world more clearly, to let life speak through me—to be more intimate and close to it.”

Well, I can easily say (my wild mind will agree here) she has been one of my mentors, teachers, guides, for which I am grateful. Also thanks Dethe for giving me that book, which I really intended on returning, but then we got married, and you got your wish: that I get to keep it.

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