Natalie Goldberg lived in Brooklyn until she was six, when her family moved out to Farmingdale, Long Island, where her father owned the bar the Aero Tavern. From a young age, Goldberg was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Carson McCullers's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, which she read in ninth grade.
She thinks that single book led her eventually to put pen to paper when she was twenty-four years old. She received a BA in English literature from George Washington University and an MA in humanities from St. John's University.
Goldberg has painted for as long as she has written, and her paintings can be seen in Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World and Top of My Lungs: Poems and Paintings. They can also be viewed at the Ernesto Mayans Gallery on Canyon Road in Sante Fe.
Goldberg has been a serious Zen practitioner since 1974 and studied with Katagiri Roshi from 1978 to 1984.
A dedicated teacher, Goldberg has taught writing and literature for the last thirty-five years. She also leads national workshops and retreats, and her schedule can be accessed via her website: NatalieGoldberg.com.
Goldberg discusses the 20th anniversary of 'Writing Down the Bones', her books, spiritual practice, and how she doesn't believe in writer's block.
What spawned the idea for Thunder and Lightning, your sequel to Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind?
Beginner's mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write. Writing Down the Bones excerpt.
To begin writing from our pain eventually engenders compassion for our small and groping lives. Writing Down the Bones excerpt.
When we're concrete about our writing time, it alleviates that thin constant feeling of anxiety that writers have.
I use the word practice all the time. Students nod, but after some time it became clear that different definitions were at work.
Ways to counteract monkey mind and your inner critic.
We are each a concert reverberating with our whole lives and reflecting and amplifying the world around us.
I know no one wants to hear me say how hard writing is — quit while you can.