By: Christine McFarlane
To get myself writing on days that I just can't seem to lift my pen up or come up with any ideas I turn to the book "Old Friend From Far Away" which is written by Natalie Goldberg. Natalie Goldberg is a poet, teacher, and the author of eleven books that include Writing Down the Bones, Long Quiet Highway, Living Color, and the Great Failure. She has taught writing seminars for thirty years to people from around the world.
I often find that turning to "Old Friend From Far Away" is immensely helpful and it sometimes surprises me at what comes out. This book is her first since her classic "Writing Down the Bones" and reaffirms Goldberg's status as a foremost teacher of writing and completely transforms the practice of writing memoir.
Goldberg uses timed, associative and meditative exercises in "Old Friend From Far Away" and this guides you to a more attentive state which is supposed to lead you to discover and open forgotten doors of memory.
"Old Friend" welcomes aspiring writers of all levels and encourages you to find your voice, because after all we all have stories within that are itching to be told.
Below, is an excerpt of a short writing exercise I did, upon flipping through "Old Friend". If you need inspiration to get your writing going- I highly recommend this book. It is published by Free Press a division of Simon and Schuster and can be bought at your nearest bookstore for $19.00
"A Simple Task"
By: Christine McFarlane
The task was simple. I had to boil some noodles and stir in the sauce. It was supposed to only take ten minutes but instead it took me twenty. It was early in the morning, I think it was like seven o'clock. An unearthly time for me to be up, but I wanted to help. After all, I was visiting and sleeping on the couch made me privy to every noise within the apartment.
I shuffled over to the kitchen, and though I read the instructions on how to cook these noodles, my head was so foggy, that I promptly forgot. I pulled out a pot, put it under the kitchen faucet and filled it with water. I dumped in the noodles, put the pot on the stove, turned on the heating element and left the kitchen.
A task so simple, yet so difficult at the same time. My medications at the time, had me so out of it, I didn't know whether I was coming or going. I remember five minutes later, the smoke alarm going off and in exasperation my niece's father pulling the pot off the stove, and saying
"This was so simple. Never mind, I will do this but please remember to put this in S's lunch before you walk her to school."
I stood and watched the burnt noodles being scraped out of the pot and put into the garbage. My head was foggy, I wanted to cry, because I did not like the way my meds made me feel, and how I couldn't do simple tasks.
As I stood at the kitchen entrance, I watched as a new pot was taken out, fresh water was once again put in and I heard the crackling of the Mr. Noodles package being ripped open and dumped into the pot. This time I stood by the stove, and watched those noodles get cooked, I couldn't burn them again.