“The Male Bashing Stereotype” by Kimberly Graham, unveils the secret of creativity, which is by her own admission a process of “uneducation,” rather than one of education. The premise here is to discard the rules we’ve learned about creative writing, and formulate new ones that actually work for us. Goldberg teaches workshops where current writers go not to learn the craft, but to actually tap into the creative process using a more “hands on” approach.
Goldberg’s approach offers challenging concepts and positive solutions. Natalie Goldberg is a firm believer in the writing exercise, which is an excellent way to keep in good form. The author, a practicing Zen Buddhist, manages to address most of the problems that sabotage the process itself. According to Goldberg, it is the way we approach and perceive the craft itself that ultimately prevents writers from producing the work. She opens with a chapter labeled, “First Thoughts,” which advocates letting go of all of one’s ego and inhibition. “We must trust in our own process and voice,” she insists.
This first statement rings absolutely true. In writer’s groups writers come and go frequently. The ones that ultimately persevere in the craft are the ones that don’t have thin skins. Goldberg quotes a cherished Zen master as having said, “We must continue to open in the face of great opposition” (Rinpoche12). For this reason, the writer has to be able to separate themselves from his or her work.
The work may in fact be an extension or reflection of the writer’s personal experience, but this is where the association ends. Unless the work is viewed through this lens, critique will always seem like a personal attack, instead of an aspect for improvement. Goldberg prefers first thoughts because she says, “First thoughts are unencumbered by ego” (8).