Book Review: Old Friend from Far Away

Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg

Recommended for all writers, not just those interested in memoir

The subtitle of Old Friend from Far Away is very accurate. This is not a book about structure and theme and all the do’s and don’ts people are so fond of shoveling down our throats when talking about writing. This book is about practice. Almost every page has another exercise to do. Another ten minutes to write. Another memory to plumb.

And it works. It’s almost a form of meditation, but it does work and gets you to observe the world around you and make those weird connections that make your brain operate on a higher level. This is about being concrete and emotion-filled and getting down to the roots of our memories and what we’re really attempting to say.

It makes your fiction writing stronger when you can clearing describe an ending or a summer day or the time you said goodbye to your lover in the train station. When you can find the emotions and color and details in the every day, your writing as a whole becomes stronger. You gain access to something deep and bright and you develop your voice.

Goldberg recommends sitting or walking meditation. I’ve done sitting before and it is a way to learn focus. And if it works for you that’s wonderful. Personally, I found the writing exercises to be a stronger form of meditation – one that works for me.

Highly recommended for all writers.


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