Sit, Walk, Write

“I beg to urge you everyone:
Life and Death are a Great Matter
Awaken, awaken, awaken
Time passes quickly
Do not waste this precious life.”
                     – Zen Evening Chant

Best-selling author Natalie Goldberg, in her recent book, THE TRUE SECRET OF WRITING, released March 19, 2013, provides a glimpse of the writing and meditation workshops she has conducted since the early 2000s. I have attended or assisted Nat at many of these and can attest to their effectiveness at bringing the mind to a stillness I have found nowhere else except in running.

In an interview with Melissa Studdard and in the forward to the new book, Nat explains the tongue-in-cheek title. Nat’s workshops often ended at noon on Friday. It is a three-hour drive from Taos to the nearest major airport. Invariably, in the final days of the workshop, a student would approach Nat to explain that she had booked a flight Friday afternoon and so would have to miss the Friday morning class. Nat would smile and say, in all seriousness, “I’m so sorry. That is when I am going to tell the true secret of writing. I guess you’ll miss it.”

In the book, as in her conversation with this student, she makes an important point. Show up! If you want to run, show up for the workout. If you want to write, show up to the page. If you want to learn, show up to the class. Especially in writing, there are no shortcuts. There are skills to be learned, hours to be spent in practice, and mistakes to be made. There is no easier, softer way.

It’s been a pleasure to get these new reminders. I’ve studied with many others and have learned from all of them. Still, the lessons from Natalie through the years have kept me going when I’ve forgotten all the rest.

For information about Nat’s workshops, visit her website. Her workshop schedule is limited in 2013 due to her book tour.

Natalie admits there is actually no “true secret of writing.” But if you could say there was one, what would it be?