Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy

Natalie Goldberg Told Me So. Julia and Stephen Too – Writing 101


Okay, here is my assignment for today, 20 minutes of writing that I do not have to go back and fix the punctuation errors, so many thought there may be, but I might at the 18 minute mark. I signed up for this to help me with my most significant problems related to writing. These are not the actual writing itself, because I feel like I have an okay grasp on that. It is about what it is always about for me. Sitting down to write every day. When I first moved to Portland, OR, driving across country from Massachusetts, knowing no one where I was headed, never having been there, just doing it because it felt like the right thing to do, and I was age 59 at the time, I used to sit in a Starbucks on East Burnside and read “Writing Down The Bones”. And I would sit there with a $1.19 notebook and do writing assignments, very much like this, except I had a pen and paper instead of a keyboard. So there were no typing errors then. Anyway, I did that for a few months and hopefully it helped at least a smidge in my goal to be a writer. Then a year or so later I bought on Ebay and Read Julia Cameron’s “The Artist Way”. One of her first suggestions was to write what she called “Morning Pages”, three pages in a notebook every day, without fail. For the 12 weeks to complete the “course”. That was a little more than three years ago and I have been doing my pages every day since then. It takes me about 20 minutes to write them, so when I saw this assignment I was just going to write that I already did it today — trust me on this — which would be true and also, alas, not in keeping with this daily assignment, which if I do this for the next 20 days means I will be writing at least 40 minutes a day. Oh woo is me, he says, forgetting that only a few minutes ago I was leading up to my real problem with writing, which is a lack of perseverance, a lack of persistence, a lack of just getting in the car, as a guy I heard in AA say over and over again one morning in a meeting in the town hall basement in my home town, where I was actually drunk once in high school. Anyway there is no need for me to complain I guess, then, about writing for 20 minutes twice today since it is my hopeful goal to write at least for an hour five days a week. The only thing keeping me from that is me so here I am. By the way, my elbow really hurts from fast typing here, I need to slow it down a little. Stephen King, in the best book I have ever read about writing – “On Writing” – says if you really and truly want to be a writer you need to create a writing space to which you can close the door and you need to show up to your writing space every day, at least five days a week, for an allotted amount of time, he uses as an example four hours. That would be so cool, hmmm, what is keeping me from doing that? Oh yeah, me again. Remember that song by Todd Rundgren, “Hello It’s Me”? ย Well, there is my friend and my lazy bum. When I call myself a lazy bum my wife says I am being mean to her husband. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I try to do it only when she is not around. I am a nice barely writing guy I guess. Well, so there are references to three people who I believe have had a great influence on whatever writing life I have: Natalie, Julia, and Stephen. I do have a blog, where I guess this is going at least for a day or two, and I am sort of “working” ( the crowd bursts into howling gales of laughter) on a couple of books. So hopefully I show up for the next 20 days and do the right thing. I guess it is punctuation time.


Author: buddycushmanart

This is my Blog, my opportunity to say what I think and write what I feel. The content has morphed in the two years of existence -- I began with personal tales of sillyness and drunkeness and soberness and times, places, and events within. Then I wrote a whole a lot of opinions about the world and its often sad shape, and how I thought we could make it better (re: engaging stories of hope). More recently I've taken to writing about this and that, including links to movies, Ted Talks, rock and roll, other writers' web pages, and more. These past seven years I have taken up the life of a painter, and my work can be seen on my web page ( www.buddycushmanfineart.com ) and my Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/musicflower67). But I've been writing since I was just a young thing living on the Massachusetts coast, and storytelling is my home. I have a number of fiction works in varying degrees of completion, and have published two books of fiction in the last year, under the name W.B. Cushman. But it's here I get to share my whatevers of sorrow and hope, and hopefully, wonder and magic. Thanks for stopping in.

3 thoughts on “Natalie Goldberg Told Me So. Julia and Stephen Too – Writing 101

  1. Yes I was doing the Artist”s Way too a while ago, writing Morning Pages every day, and I want to start again. Same problem here, lack of perseverence. Although I did persevere for quite a while. Maybe it was more lack of focus but at some point I found myself writing so many pages that I quit to do other things. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The author who locked himself in a room to write four hours every day was Thomas Mann. But not everyone can be so disciplined, or so predictable. There are people who write in fits and starts, and still get some stuff finished. Dostoyevsky wrote “The Gambler” in three weeks because he had ruined himself with gambling and needed to earn some money. Rilke wrote to a young poet who asked him for advice about his poetry: “Ask yourself if you could live without writing. If the answer is yes, then it would be better you leave writing and do something you really love. If you cannot live without it, go inside, go to the core, and express yourself from there, as authenticaly and honestly as you can.” There was a time when I couldn’t have lived without writing. Today I can … but only for a time, it seems. I’m not as radical as Rilke was. But it’s fun to do these assignments and see what comes up. I look forward to reading more from you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. surprising myself, I LOVE the long, rambling sentences that seem to go on forever…you speak from your heart (and, of course, I love seeing me in there). ๐Ÿ™‚

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