Book Review: Bird by Bird

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Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,
by Anne Lamott
 
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

 I can’t decide if reading this book will make me a better writer, or if it is just going to give me a better sense of humor about it. Anne Lamott has the kind of quirky sense of humor that makes me want to actually meet her and be her friend. We could have a blast making fun of ourselves and of everyone else, all while having occasional deep thoughts about life. For one thing, it was Anne Lamott who said (in this book, in fact, while quoting her priest friend, Tom), “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Now there’s someone I can relate to.

The following are a few useful quotes from Bird by Bird, because, no matter how long I try, I won’t be able to say it better than Anne Lamott does:

“Later that summer I came to know how they felt, when I read Catcher in the Rye for the first time and I knew what it was like to have someone speak for me, to close a book with a sense of both triumph and relief, one lonely isolated social animal finally making contact.”

“So God made some of us fast in this area of working with words, and he gave us the gift of loving to read with the same kind of passion with which we love nature.”

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts…. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft – you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft – you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.”

“The only thing to do when the sense of dread and low self-esteem tells you that you are not up to this is to wear it down by getting a little work done every day.”

“…I also tell them that sometimes when my writer friends are working, they feel better and more alive than they do at any other time.”

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6 responses »

  1. I’ve read this book. I LOVE Anne Lamott!!! You chose some great quotes. I remember one time on PBS she said, “You have to right so the voices in your head won’t make you crazy.” I know I feel better on the days I write. That doesn’t mean I have the good sense to do it everyday.

    • I remember that her making a similar statement in the book. And I remember thinking — why didn’t it occur to me before that I could actually clear all the stories out of my head by writing them down?

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