Customer Review

66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely experience of a painful process, January 30, 2006
This review is from: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Paperback)
BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE by Anne Lamott is a lovely, lovely, lovely book! Of course it is about writing, but it is also about any kind of longterm endeavor that is challenging, that creates self-doubt, and that is a channel for self _expression and self actualization. Lamott's Christianity and general spirituality, which is expressed in this book as a side note to her writing focus, is warm and friendly, and her personality, humorous and inclusive and confident, is wonderful for the reader to share. I LOVED the process of reading this book, of being with it.

This book has a charming and engaging introduction and then is divided into parts on Writing (which includes chapters called "Getting Started," "Short Assignments," "Perfectionism," "False Starts," "Plot Treatment," and "How Do You Know When You're Done?"), The Writing Frame of Mind (with chapters like "The Moral Point of View," "Broccoli," "Radio Station KFKD," and "Jealousy"), Help Along the Way ("Index Cards," Calling Around," "Writing Groups," and "Someone to Read Your Drafts" and "Writer's Block"), and final sections called "Publication -- and Other Reasons to Write" and "The Last Class."

While I actually think the writing lessons of this book are secondary to the wonderful life lessons this book contains, I have found myself using these lessons. I love the idea that first drafts can be BAAAAAAAAAAD with no harm to anyone! It's incredibly liberating and freeing, and allows one to write whatever one has to write with self-permission to do a bad job the first time round because you know you'll correct it later on. If you write ANYTHING this book will give you practical, helpful advice to advance and improve.

I underlined in this book, which is something that as a librarian's daughter, I almost never do, but this book feels like a reference, a guide, in a way that other works do not. I underlined things like, "Hope is a revolutionary patience" on page xxiii and "Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything on earth" on page 15.

Lamott quotes from other wondrous writers, she writes about events in her own life that elevate her and that enervate her. But everything she writes is about taking lots of small steps in one direction. I literally laughed and cried while reading this wonderful and wondrous memoir about the process of writing and how life's pains and joys illustrate this process for Lamott ... I nearly wished I still taught freshman composition so I could use it as a text book. It is the most honest, charming, personable and true description of the painful and rewarding act of writing that I have ever read. I recommend it to anyone, writer or not, who is engaged in a longterm, or even lifelong endeavor. Anne Lamott will simultaneously soothe and inspire any reader of BIRD BY BIRD.
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