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Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft
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Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  953 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Goldberg's books have inspired thousands to begin a writing practice to release their wild minds, and now she shows how to direct that raw energy into stories, essays, poems, novels, and memoirs. This sequel to "Writing Down the Bones" and "Wild Mind" is for anyone who's ever dreamed of converting that initial flash of inspiration--the thunder and lightning--into finished ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Bantam
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Emma Sea
got to page 11 and my heart cried out for me to stop. I was not ready for the sense of despair Goldberg communicates in her introduction. Which is called 'Warning', so that was kinda apt.

Not for me.
Jan Marquart
Apr 27, 2011 Jan Marquart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Natalie Goldberg is most famous for her book Writing Down the Bones, and although I've read every one of her books and liked them, I love Thunder and Lightning the best. I'm not being critical of her. I have taken five of her workshops in Taos and know her personally. She is no-nonsense when it comes to writing. I like that about her. Just do it -- she says. But there is something about Thunder and Lightning that spoke to the writer in me more deeply than the other books. Most of her books have ...more
Jan 20, 2010 Jeana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeana by: Kate Lahey
There are things I like about all of Natalie Goldberg's writing books. She really has a love of writing and that is infectious. However, every writer has a different method and different things that work for them. Her methods are not what work best for me. As I read, I could accept that she was describing her method and I was thinking how that wouldn't work in my situation. I particularly did not like that she said you shouldn't be thinking about the story you're writing unless you're sitting do ...more
Jul 09, 2016 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thunder and Lightning didn't effortlessly send my wild mind flying like Writing Down the Bones did, but it wasn't just a piece of fluff, either. Far from it. It's still Goldberg, writing in that clear and poignant way that she has, sharing herself and what she's learned about writing. The best books about writing inspire rather than dictate. Goldberg inspires.
Mary Catelli
A book about actually turning writing into works of literature. Particularly novels.

Very personal accounts. More or less useful depending on how close your writing style comes to hers.
Feb 18, 2017 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Natalie Goldberg is wise and compelling.
Dec 26, 2016 Leena rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
couldn't get into it
Kressel Housman
Dec 01, 2016 Kressel Housman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
This is the “sequel” to Natalie Goldberg’s famous Writing Down the Bones, and though there was a fifteen-year gap between the publication of the two, I read them almost back to back, and this one definitely picked up where its predecessor left off. It tells you how to turn writing practice entries into a book. “Ah! Just what I needed!” I thought.

The middle section is about reading to learn craft. Now, all writers start off as readers, so while this section mentions some interesting books I may c
Wendy Christopher
I read 'Wild Mind' and 'Writing Down The Bones' almost ten years ago now, and both were instrumental in helping me to accept myself as a writer. 'Thunder and Lightning' has re-affirmed that resolve, and reminded me why Natalie Goldberg inspired me so much all those years ago.

She's a lot like Marmite; people either love her open-hearted, spiritual approach both to writing and life or dismiss her as a tree-hugging hippiechick peddling a myth that 'everyone' can write. I'm not ashamed to say I am v
Taylor Church
Sep 26, 2016 Taylor Church rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just love finding an author and devouring their mind. You read all their works—their poems, their juvenilia, their forgotten essays, letters, novels, and memoirs. You read biographies on them and listen to interviews of them. In doing so you don’t try to copy their style or become them, but a beautiful part of them is left with you forever like a close friend. You can never go back to the time before you first opened their books, and if they are strong writers you will be that much better off ...more
Jun 08, 2013 Celina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
I discovered Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones by accident one day at the library, and instantly fell in love with her willingness to share the honest truth about life as a writer. I was willing to trudge through a whole lot of unfamiliar Zen jargon to grasp the jewels found therein. I was thrilled to find that my small library had recently acquired Thunder and Lightning, and I have consumed it cover to cover.

It is truly a wonderful book--one of the best I've read on the craft of writin
Kelly McCloskey-Romero
My daughter and I saw Natalie Goldberg speak in early March, and she inspired me. She is irreverent, confident, brash, and lively, even that night when she confessed to having a cold. That night, she recommended Thunder and Lightning when someone asked about writing craft.

This book delivers entertaining doses of Goldberg's prescription: writing practice as a path to overall healthy living, to publication, to anything worth having. She is a Zen Buddhist, and there's an aura of religion and spirit
Natalie Goldberg seems to get a lot of praise among wannabe writers. I decided to check out her book mainly, because she's so popular on blogs and articles.

Unfortunately this book didn't help me much. I usually take notes while I read writing manuals. After 50 pages I hadn't made a single note. The author had already talked some about her first book and her former zen teacher. Everything was so personal that it was hard to draw useful advice from it.

Finishing the book became a chore. Towards t
Oct 06, 2012 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed how she discussed writing practice and then showed how important it was to an author's success. Its the only way to ground yourself and your writing. She encouraged writers and want to be writers to seek each other, building upon each other to grow into a better writer. Writing can be a very lonely task and losing sight of the world is not the best move for any writer. Tossing ideas around, asking people to be involved with your story helps your characters develop.

Each process of writi
Heather Richard
Feb 10, 2013 Heather Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Maybe it's the gap, the feeling that someone isn't listening, doesn't get it, has half heard us, that compels us to write and explain. That's why we turn around and speak to our past,a s if others can hear us now, as if we can finally hear ourselves and catch our fleeting lives." (67)

"...what jots us to finally arrive where we are?" (141) We don't need to be destroyed to find a voice!

"Sometimes by ourselves we can get lost, especially when it's all coming from us. It's important to have a frien
Carmen Sisson
Aug 23, 2010 Carmen Sisson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
Goldberg excels at dishing the real dirt on being a writer - the frailties, insecurities, fears, and abject misery. She questions whether writing is "a dumb dream" and asks why most writers seem so depressed.

"Bareboned, you are on the path with no markers, only the skulls of those who never made it back," she warns. "But I have made the journey, and I have made it back — over and over again. I will act as your guide."

And what an excellent guide to bring along on the trip. Reading Goldberg will r
Meghan Pinson
Mar 11, 2009 Meghan Pinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
quotes to keep a finger on:

"I rarely think about a book I'm working on. To think too much about it while I'm not physically working on it usually lmeans to worry, to toss around discursive ideas. The real writing comes from the abdomen, from my whole body in the act of writing it."

"Can we write this way? 'She walked in the room.' No countermotive. Let the story unfold by itself. Write one pure statement -- and then another. Don't cover up, backslide, explain. 'I wanted a motorcycle.' Don't be as
Jan 31, 2012 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012reads
This book was hard to put down. A symbolic group of short stories that at the surface gave me very little at the surface but at a subconscious level was one of the best help books I have ever read. Her journey took me through a portion of her literary life and actually made me feel hopeful of my writing. This book is not a practical exercise book if that is what you are looking for. By her observations I learned of a mindset. I say me and not you because it's my belief Natalie Goldberg's book af ...more
Morgan Dragonwillow
This is the first writing book in a long time that I have read cover to cover and enjoyed every bit of it. Writing down the Bones was the first writing book that I read cover to cover and this book ranked right up there with that one. I know I'll be turning to it again and again just like I do with my dog eared copy of Writing Down the Bones. by Natalie Goldberg takes you deeper into her writing journey and it had me wanting to get back to writing for myself. If you are a writer, I highly recomm ...more
Jennie Coughlin
Sep 09, 2011 Jennie Coughlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Thunder and Lightening has been one of the mainstays in my writing collection for more than a decade. I find it impossible to read more than one or two in this collection of essays without putting the book down and starting to write. Goldberg delivers helpful advice in a distinctive voice, and taps into much of the challenge of writing and continuing to write.

Oddly enough, I don't enjoy her two earlier writing books nearly as much, and I've never been able to pinpoint exactly why.

Thunder and L
Goldberg is a Zen Buddhist. Good book about the spiritual side of writing. Well- maybe it's not all spiritual- but she connects writing to something inside us. That's stupid. I'm just making shit up here. Check the book. I started using a yellow highlighter about 2/3rds of the way through it. She talks a lot about writing practice. It's just what it sounds like. Practice. Basically free writing for set periods of time. She even recommends that new writers do writing practice for two years before ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-on-writing
When I picked up this book at Barnes and Noble, I really didn't have any intention of buying it. I planned to flip through it and grab one of the other books that I had chosen. As if fate knew this, I spilled coffee on the copy so it had to come home with me. Natalie Goldberg does a great job of explaining the writing life through her own experience, drawing connections to her past, what worked and didn't work for her, and her Zen practice. I feel like this was exactly the writing book that I ne ...more
Adriana Diaz
Jun 12, 2015 Adriana Diaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just like Janet Frame, I am a big fan of this writer. She is such a good teacher, and every book is like taking a class. She never loses her humanity, or her genius for inspiring and encouraging writers to stay with the craft. Her writing is so good that life seems more visible while I'm reading one of her books. And in this book, I get a sense of her love of this country, and her appreciation for how certain areas have produced certain writers. that gave me a new insight into seeing the whole U ...more
Mary Ann
Mar 13, 2016 Mary Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Natalie Goldberg tells her students that writers need to spend two years in practice writing before they start writing their novels, memoirs and short stories She spent three years writing her first novel, and then had to introduce a new character and kill that new character at the end of the book. Finding the structure for a novel does not happen right away.
She writes about joys and discipline of writing and about the process of not only finding structure, but of studying the authors who came b
Apr 13, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's true, this book is inspiring for would-be writers. So many writing books are veiled self-help. In this book, the self-help is turned down and the Zen Buddhism is turned up, which creates a very freeing and creative tone. Obviously the methods that work for the author may not be the same methods that work for the reader but overall it will make you want to pick up a pen. Good read, I recommend it to anyone who wants to write.
May 26, 2008 HeavyReader rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
This is a book about the process of writing. It tells how writers write...or at least it tells how Natalie Goldberg writes.

I like Natalie Goldberg's books about writing a lot. I like the way she goes ahead and rips herself open and shows the reader what is inside of her, even when what's inside is fussy and scared and not so noble.

Writers should read Natalie Goldberg, whether or not they agree with her and her writing methods. She really does have a lot to teach.
Richard Jespers
Nov 19, 2014 Richard Jespers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about writing longer works of fiction.

1) What’s really important to you?
2) What are the subjects that really pull at you?
3) What are you willing to be witness to in order to stay in there and carry on for a
long time?
4) What are you most afraid to write about?
5) Whom do you write for?

Structure: go where the mind goes. A chapter is an act of discovery, not an act of manipulation.
September Michaud
Finished this title, though I was skimming towards the end. This one just didn't pull me in like "Wild Mind" and "Writing Down the Bones" because this one has a more dejected tone whereas the others are much more optimistic and reasonable.

Certainly there are some quotable passages sprinkled throughout, but there's nothing to keep me from throwing this book out--I didn't gain any real connection to it.
Feb 06, 2015 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've missed reading her! Now I want to go back and re-read the others. What's good about this book, as opposed to a lot of books about writing, is that it's not just about getting words on the page: here she talks about what you do with the material you've engendered. And she's great company. Let's just see whether reading this translates into me getting more work done...
The Reading Countess
Mar 24, 2010 The Reading Countess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: professional
This is a fantastic, self-affirming book written by a writer who understands the pains it takes for someone to even put pen to paper. Full of wonderful anecdotes the reader can relate to, I especially was happy to see not only the nod to habitual writing, but habitual reading as steps to forming a skillful writer.
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Natalie Goldberg lived in Brooklyn until she was six, when her family moved out to Farmingdale, Long Island, where her father owned the bar the Aero Tavern. From a young age, Goldberg was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Carson McCullers's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe , which she read in ninth grade. She thinks that single book led her eventually to put pen to paper when she was twe ...more
More about Natalie Goldberg...

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“In the past few years I've assigned books to be read before a student attends one of my weeklong seminars. I have been astonished by how few people -- people who supposedly want to write -- read books, and if they read them, how little they examine them.” 14 likes
“I wonder if I don't give too much of myself to writing: I am always half where I am; the other half is feeding the furnace, kick-starting the heat of creativity. I am making love with someone but at the same time I'm noticing how this graceful hand across my belly might just fit in with the memory of lilacs in Albuquerque in 1974.” 11 likes
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