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outgrowing my heroes?

I discovered Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones the summer I graduated high school and it changed my life as far as writing was concerned.  Not since finding Turn Not Pale, Beloved Snail by Jacqueline Jackson in 6th grade (so influential to me at that age that it actually moved me to steal a library book) had I been so inspired to write, write, write.

I recommended Writing Down the Bones to everyone who would stand still long enough, and a few I felt compelled to chase down and corner with my enthusiasm.  I ran a writing group based n the principles of the book in college.  I taught it in my 101 classes as a TA in grad school (indeed, one of the reasons I got the position was because I was a fan of Goldberg's methods.  It also almost got me a black mark from the person who became one of my mentors.  I was saved by my love of Djuna Barnes.  Life is funny, ain't it?).

I was riding high on all of the amazing (s)heroes of mine that Chapel Hill was affording me in the early days of my move here (many of whom I am now lucky to "just" call friends).  It was dizzying.  These were women who influenced me with their writing, their music, their art, their just general badass feminist voices and selves.

And I was embraced in my stumbling awkwardness, the rush of words while the voice in the back of my head was screeching "Be cool, Alicia!  For the love of all that is holy, BE COOL!"

So, y'all can imagine how I felt when I saw Natalie Goldberg was coming to Flyleaf.  I begged Jamie to let me come help set up (now that I've lived here almost a decade--cripes!  Has it really been that long!?!?!?--she teases me how I used to come, hat in hand, and ask for the priviledge of setting up folding chairs and wrestling with mics.  Now I just show up early and pitch in).

I was good.  I set everything up, took my seat in the middle row (not too close.  I was trying REALLY hard to squash that part of me that has had to sit in the front row of EVERY class I've liked, and not just because my eyesight sucked), and...

...okay, the reading from the new book was okay.  I didn't dare ask any questions during the Q&A.  I waited in line with my well worn copy of Writing Down the Bones as well as her new book (which I really couldn't afford at the time) to have them signed.

She probably feels about WDtB the same way that many bands feel about their One Hit Song that everyone wants to hear.  Book tours are long and tiring.  Maybe she was having an off day.

It was not the experience I was hoping for.  Okay, I was kind of crushed and might have moped when I got home.  But she's human and...something, something, something [insert platitude here].

So she was at Flyleaf again Friday, promoting her latest book.  I haven't even read her last one yet.  I figured I was just being immature and butthurt.

I had the time for the reading written down wrong (clue the first: I always check obsessively about dates/times).  I was tired after work, so I headed up about 15 minutes before the reading was about to start, only to find out I was 45 minutes in.

I snuck in the back, and stood quietly and respectfully... and got as far as hearing "And you have to ask yourself 'What does "the" really mean?"  And I snuck back out, just as quietly and respectfully.

I ain't got time for that.  That is not my writing process.

On the walk home, it occured to me that I actually have a writing process. While I always be thankful for the nudges Goldberg gave me along the way, I don't need to try to BE HER any more.

It's bittersweet, but I'm pretty okay with moving on.  It's just weird to think that maybe, just maybe....I've outgrown her.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
communitybee
Mar. 12th, 2017 11:31 am (UTC)
It is a painful process when we outgrow things... *hugs*
siduri
Mar. 12th, 2017 12:19 pm (UTC)
It does suck when your heroes let us down. But, you got exactly what you needed and that is what matters. You are a writer and a good one.

This is why I don't go to this sort of thing, I am pretty aware of people and their humanity, LOL.
spikesgirl58
Mar. 12th, 2017 01:06 pm (UTC)
*hugs* What happened is that you took what you needed, applied it and internalized it. However, it didn't mean that it should become an ends to everything. I'm pretty sure Goldberg doesn't want you to be her either. There is nothing more satisfying than inspiring someone, but if the inspiration falls short of truly making a difference, then it's a fail.

I guess what I'm saying what you have experienced is true growth - you have surpassed your mentor. Now it's time for you to find new heores and maybe become one to someone else. It can happen!

*hugs*
fbhjr
Mar. 12th, 2017 01:27 pm (UTC)
It's good to grow, even if sometimes past others.
gneu
Mar. 12th, 2017 04:54 pm (UTC)
Realizing something of yourself on your own is quite fascinating. Recognizing it is even better.

A story I read in fourth grade class, caused me the immediate paradigm shift that Santa Claus wasn't real.

What is the "black mark?"
mac_arthur_park
Mar. 14th, 2017 05:07 am (UTC)
My mentor Scott used it for anything that made him think "oh, God, not another one of THOSE" during the interviews for the TA program.

Later he said, "You were just so damned...shiny. Enthusiastic. Energetic. It was irritating. I almost slapped the chair when she stuck me with you and gave you Chelsea (his hippie-dippy, poetry-writing, yurt building colleague whose name is actually Blanche but she renamed herself after the Joni Mitchell song. I ADORE her) as your other mentor."

Needless to say, the classes the three of us designed were anything but boring.
idic_writer
Mar. 12th, 2017 05:29 pm (UTC)
Idealising
I have JUST caught myself doing with this with an old friend...and stopped. Feels good, too.

Writing, like everything else, matures as we do. GO YOU.
adoptedwriter
Mar. 13th, 2017 02:59 pm (UTC)

She helped influence you at the start. That will always count for something.

angiereedgarner
Mar. 13th, 2017 06:02 pm (UTC)
Sigh. I loved WDTB and Wild Mind and her book of watercolors so much that I'm afraid to read The Great Failure. Even though I'm a Zen student studying with a contemporary of hers who got transmission from Katagiri and the issue she wrestled with there are more than slightly relevant to my own life!
mac_arthur_park
Mar. 14th, 2017 05:10 am (UTC)
I have to admit that I'm reticent to read anything else past what I've read, even though I have everything up to this most recent book.

Maybe there's a lesson to be learned in reluctance?
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )