I’m chirping about… bird by bird

16 02 2009

I’m reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird at the moment. I can’t chirp on about this book enough. I feel like Anne’s been inside my head – and no, I don’t mean she’s found out my head’s full of feathers.

It was first published in the 1990s, but for me it’s like finding the mother-lode. I’ve had this book recommended to me so many times, but never got around to buying it.

But once I started reading it, it was pretty hard to put down. Especially because she tells it like it is, and she tells it funny. And I can never resist funny. So what’s the ‘bird by bird’ thing about? In her words:

“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…. 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.'”

I can’t recommend it highly enough. Especially when it’s filled with encouraging things like this: “…it is fantasy to think that successful writers do not have these bored, defeated hours, these hours of deep insecurity when one feels as small and jumpy as a water bug”.

Because don’t we unpublished writers always think that getting published is the pinnacle – when apparently the second book is even harder? At least with the first one, you can take your time, learn your craft, enjoy the process. There are no expectations, no deadlines.

Then again, I work better to deadline. And those kind of expectations I can live with 🙂





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