On Listening


“Writing,
too, is 90 percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that
it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you. If you can capture that
reality around you, your writing needs noting else. You don’t only listen to
the person speaking to you across the table, but simultaneously listen to the
air, the chair, and the door. And go beyond the door. Take in the sound of the
season, the sound of the color coming in through the windows. Listen to the
past, future, and present right where you are. Listen with your whole body, not
only with your ears, but with your hands, your face, and the back of your neck.

Listening
is receptivity. The deeper you can listen, the better you can write. You take
in the way things are without judgment, and the next day you can write the
truth about the way things are. Jack Kerouac in his list of prose essentials
said, ‘Be submissive to everything. Open. Listening.’ He also said, ‘No time
for poetry, but exactly what it is.’ If you can capture the way things are,
that’s all the poetry you’ll ever need.”

Natalie
Goldberg, Writing Down The Bones

 

 

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