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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

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  776 ratings  ·  54 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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Jan Marquart
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
May 16, 2010 Jeana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
This is a good book. I must admit that I did not like it quite as much as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Truthfully, I wish I would have read this book first, and then Bird by Bird. It would have been the prefect sequence. This is a powerfully honest and interesting book about the creative process, and I enjoyed the unfolding of it as it went along page by page. I did find the Zen aspects of the book to be a nice philosophical touch, even if it seemed to come on a little bit heavy at times. I thin ...more
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
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
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
Sep 25, 2008 Rachel marked it as to-read
The main three headings of the book

Reining in your wild horses

What can I say, I love reading about writing.

I also like reading lists. Natalie includes a long, long list.

Two of the titles:

The Stupids Die
The Stupids Have a Ball

She's obsessed with Southern writers, as am I. She recommends a bio of Carson McCullers. The Lonely Hunter

Of course most of the book refers to zazen. So probably good Zen reading recommendations, too, but I wouldn't know, because the closest I've come to r
Carmen Sisson
Aug 24, 2010 Carmen Sisson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Heather Richard
"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
Richard Jespers
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.
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.
Meghan Pinson
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
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
This book makes me want to quit my job and write full-time. Any book that makes you want to change your life, or at least examine it, is a good one. This, even after the author gives a long list of authors who have killed themselves! I'm going to move on to another of her books, Wild Mind.
Pia Mogollon
Much like it's sequel, Writing down the Bones, "Thunder and Lightning" was a wonderful easy read. Goldberg, weaves great insight into the craft of writing with delightful memoir.
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
Jennie Coughlin
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
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
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.
Suzie Quint
The book has some glowing reviews on Amazon, so obviously it appeals to some people. I'm just not one of them. In spite of the implication of the subtitle, this is more memoir that craft book. Not that there aren't insights into writing here, but they are, in my opinion, few and far between.

Full review is at
Natalie Goldberg's flowery metaphors are to writing craft what Naomi Wolf's flowery metaphors are to the vagina.

(Kind of missing the point? More spiritual hoo-ha than substance? Uncomfortably narcissistic?)

Don't get me wrong: There is a special place in my heart for Goldberg. But I had low tolerance for this particular book.

(And, to be fair, I haven't actually read Vagina.)
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
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.
Amy Casner
Natalie is brutly honest when it comes to writing and how she was effected by her first book writing to the bones. It is nice to know that it is okay to feel disenchanted by writing and that we each need to find our own way back to doing what we love even when we aren't sure what that is anymore.

Thunder and lightning can be frightening to even the most experienced storm enthusiast. In this book, Goldberg attempts to ground us in the storm of the writing life. She is older, less infatuated, more experienced, still devoted to the spiritual practice of her lifetime.
I didn't enjoy this quite as much as some other writing books, but there's some useful stuff in here. Lots about the importance of writing practice, of turning up to the page, even on bad days. Some good insights into some of the frailties of being a writer, too.
I couldn't get into this book as much as Writing Down the Bones, or Wild Mind. I require much more around writing a novel, structure-wise, than provided here, and found the drifting off to Goldberg's love of American Southern writers just too local for me.
Jan 02, 2014 Hella added it
Shelves: creative-writing
Prachtige beschouwingen over schrijven, van de schrijfster van Writing Down the Bones.
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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...
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir Banana Rose

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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.” 10 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.” 8 likes
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