Sunday, October 9, 2016

"Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott

Rating: 4/5 stars

This book was wonderful. It was like sitting down with Anne or taking one of her creative writing classes and just having her talk to you about life and writing. I sympathized and related to her on so many levels, which is refreshing for writers who often feel isolated and unique in their struggles and sorrows.

But no, we all share in the same basic struggles. Anne shows the humanness of life and of telling about life through words on the page in a humorous and matter-of-fact way, laughing at herself and inviting the reader to take life less seriously.

I underlined extensively in this book the things that really resonated with me, and also the parts that literally had me laughing out loud. Here are some of my favorite laugh out loud parts:

"My writer friends . . . do not go around beaming with quiet feelings of contentment. Most of them go around with haunted, abused, surprised looks on their faces, like lab dogs whom very personal deodorant sprays have been tested."

"I suspect that he was a child who thought differently than his peer, who may have had serious conversations with grownups, who as a young person . . . accepted being alone quite a lot. I think that sort of person often becomes either a writer or a career criminal."

I appreciated Anne's glaring honesty. Writing is hard, and even good writers have to struggle with it and wrestle it until it works. But it's worth it. Over and over, Anne affirms that writing is worth it and if you desire to do it, you can do it, and that writers and artists are a privileged people:

"This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won't wash them away. I think this is a wonderful person to be."

I also found the writing tips helpful, such as striving to write at least 300 words a day, and finding a writer group. But ultimately, your greatest weapon as a writer is determination:

 "Hope is a revolutionary patience . . . [and] so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

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