Bird by Bird

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

I read this a while ago while visiting my parents, but I talked to both of them about it so I didn't feel as compelled to blog it right away. Basically, it was a well-written book about writing by an accomplished author, but now I don't want to read her other works.

The author has really practical advice about getting past all those voices in your head telling potential authors not to write. She tells us how to get past all that baggage, and just write. You can be perfect later, or write about the history of epic subjects, or become world famous published author, but for now, just write. Not bad advice for life in general, whether you want to be an author or not.

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time,
was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three
months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at
our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the
kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder
paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized
by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside
him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by
bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.

Lamott has wisdom to pass on, but now I don't want to read her noted memoir, "Travelling Mercies." It's about her religious conversion but it's not the God that I know. The most annoying example is how she refers to God is "she," which is not only specifically NOT how God identifies Himself, but it's a cliched affectation as well.

I enjoy writing, but I don't want to be a "writer," at least not this stage in my life. Right now I'd just be happy keeping up with the laundry. But if or when I do decide to take it seriously, I'll reread this book. If you can get past the author, this book has great information on learning the craft of writing. Just take it "bird by bird..."