This is a quote collage I tossed together to highlight some of the content from the book. Clicking the image will send you over to Flickr where you can view it in high-res. This is free to share and use however you would like.
I finished reading Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird, a couple weeks ago and am happy to share it with all of you today. This is a call-to-action book about writing that I would highly recommend. It was suggested to me by theherdlesswitch, here on the blog. Thanks for pointing me toward such a fun book.
If you’re unfamiliar with Lamott’s voice and style, it’s witty and has some kick to it. For me, that’s always a plus. What she does amazingly well is talk from the heart about the struggles most writers face (more on that in a second). It’s unapologetic, truthful, and very easy to connect with.
Given I’ve read a gazoodle (a number more than ten and less than twenty) call-to-action books now, many of the subjects she covers have been tread upon before. As with many of these autobiographical type writing books, she pulls from personal experiences to drive her agenda. For me, it was an effective and entertaining read.
I will say that Lamott often makes it feel like writing is akin to having your skin peeled from your body while being whipped with lemon-soaked rags. With that being said, if you are riding the euphoric waves of writing right now, you may feel slightly disconnected from the content of this book. But eventually (and unfortunately) those waves are going to likely break and the riptides of self-doubt, jealousy, and self-loathing are going to start pulling on your ankles. When that happens, this book might just be what you need to stay afloat.
The book is broken down into four main sections (1) Writing, (2) The Writing Frame of Mind, (3) Help Along the Way, and (4) Publication—And Other Reasons to Write.
Personally, I really enjoyed her insights on publication. My focus is often on pushing the product to publication, and I think we all have varying expectations when it comes to this. Back when I was a military journalist, I can remember when a story I wrote was circulated globally for the first time. News outlets from around the world began snatching up the story and publishing it.
Guess what though, no one really cared. Network news didn’t email me and ask me to come work for them when I got out of the Navy. Half of those places stripped my name from photos and the story and replaced it with, “Courtesy of U.S. Navy.” The friends I grew up with didn’t start flooding my inbox with virtual congratulations. Now, I can’t even find those news stories when I search for them online—I can only find the corresponding photographs I took to accompany them. I tossed one on here for you all to check out.
That was my first taste of publication “glory” and it wasn’t the last time this would happen. My expectations for my current works (Wastelander and the novella) are tapered by these experiences. Books like, Bird by Bird, really force us to look at our current works with realistic expectations and understand the struggles we face as writers are struggles that are shared collectively.
That’s it for today. If you are curious about some of the other writing books I have read you can check out a listing of them I made by clicking right here. I’m constantly eating my greens and I encourage you to do the same. If you have a book recommendation, I would love to hear about it! I’m always looking for more books to devour. Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!