Bird by Bird

by katystreet

By Anne Lamott.

My mum got this book on our shared kindle account and suggested I read it. I read the first three quarters early this year and though I loved it I stopped short of the end for some reason. However, I diligently returned to it after Christmas and finished it on the plane ride home. The whole thing is amazing.

Anne Lamott seems like the perfect writer: honest, articulate, and full of neuroses that make her writing unique and engaging. Bird by Bird is about writing, about how to write and what to write and why this writing thing anyway. It doesn’t sugar-coat the truth. Lamott does not suggest I will get published nor that publishing is really any good, though she admits that the achievement is a little stone she carries around in her pocket. She knows that writing must be read, that the point of articulation is the reciprocal, and she knows that for must of us that reciprocation will just be friends and family. She assures us that this is okay.

But it’s also about how to sit down and write, every day. She’s equal parts ‘hard work and practice will get you through’ and ‘sometimes you have to wait for it to come.’ She smatters her faith in the book in a way that does not upset me at all, and I get upset easily with that kind of stuff.

This book introduced me to Lamott and made me desperately want to read her other work.

A scene that stuck in my head: when she was reworking and reworking her second novel she laid out her manuscript in little stacks on the floor, rearranging the pieces to figure out how the story should go.