Book Review: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Although this book did not answer any of my burning questions, I decided to read it for the sake of my own writing craft. Last year, I had read several books by writers – Bird by Bird by Ann Lemott, Naming the World by Bret Anthony Johnston, Writing Magic by Gale Carson Levine, and several short pieces by young adult writers. I collected activities and added depth to my writing instruction. I copied sections of these pieces and crafted a unit called Writers Write about Writing. Students analyzed the techniques of authors and then wrote pieces about their own writing craft – what they currently do and what they could learn from these authors.
I expected Writing Down the Bones to be a book that I could add to my authors list; however, I was a bit disappointed. The chapters were short – great of photocopying – but the information was abstract and disjointed. I’m going to blame my own need for organization and concrete/practical examples, but I couldn’t find a chapter that I found absolutely phenomenal for student writers. I suppose that I might want to use a chapter or two for idea generation, which seems to be what this book mainly focuses on. I would also employ some of her strategies, but these would be boiled down from various chapters rather than one particular section. WDTB didn’t teach many of the elements of story, and it mainly focuses on finding truth and energy and writing from that “place”. While I agree with this, I just couldn’t find many practical activities for my students.
I am willing to believe that I am ignorant in some ways of writing and that a second reading of Writing Down the Bones would be beneficial when I become more enlightened. But for now, I found it an interesting read that provided some novel approaches on idea generation and what to keep and what to “Samurai.”