- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (September 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385480016
- ISBN-13: 978-0385480017
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,267 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 1st Edition
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Think you've got a book inside of you? Anne Lamott isn't afraid to help you let it out. She'll help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar letdown of publication. Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott's witty take on the reality of a writer's life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer's block and going for broke with each paragraph. Marvelously wise and best of all, great reading.
From Publishers Weekly
Lamott's ( Operating Instructions ) miscellany of guidance and reflection should appeal to writers struggling with demons large and slight. Among the pearls she offers is to start small, as their father once advised her 10-year-old brother, who was agonizing over a book report on birds: "Just take it bird by bird." Lamott's suggestion on the craft of fiction is down-to-earth: worry about the characters, not the plot. But she's even better on psychological questions. She has learned that writing is more rewarding than publication, but that even writing's rewards may not lead to contentment. As a former "Leona Helmsley of jealousy," she's come to will herself past pettiness and to fight writer's block by living "as if I am dying." She counsels writers to form support groups and wisely observes that, even if your audience is small, "to have written your version is an honorable thing."
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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“Bird” is a giant why-write and what-to-write pep rally put on by one very funny woman. Lamott gives plenty of valid reasons for an individual to write beyond that grand, elusive goal of publication which most of us dream about. She coaches starting with “Short Assignments” and moving on to “Shitty First Drafts.” She talks in general terms about developing characters, plot and dialogue. One example: “Novels ought to have hope; at least, American novels ought to have hope. French novels don’t need to. We mostly win wars, they lose them. Of course, they did hide more Jews than many other countries and this is a form of winning.”
Lamott talks plenty about the tough times—writer’s block, finding you voice, jealousy of successful writer friends—and how to move beyond the funk. She uses her own shortcomings and struggles as a base to encourage the reader to take the high, honest roads in life. My advice is to start your reading of “Bird” with the last paragraph. The reasons Lamott gives there for all of us to write plus the beauty and inspiration in her words on that one-third page are worth the price of the book.
Most recently, I read aloud selections of the chapter on writer's block to my university students (School Lunches, p. 33). She writes for days (with lots of humor) on her recollections of the events in the school cafeteria. Then, as she is reading through this nonsense, she discovers her mention of the kid who never fits in. This is the gem that will become the seed of her next piece. My students are laughing and enjoying the light reading and then suddenly a important truth emerges--we all have the ideas to be great writers, but we have to coax them out--free writing is a great way to do that.
Finally, a mentor who can guide a lost writer step by step, bird by bird. Thank you.
not counting novels the children and I are reading for school.
So it is with great enthusiasm that I announce,
I have finally completed Anne Lamott's
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
This was a book that everyone in the world seemed to know about except me.
And when I was amongst writing folk and mentioned that I had never read this work,
I was treated as if I earned my degree from Sears Roebuck or from a dude named Cappy's.
After cracking this book open and spending the past few months slowly digesting Lamott's bits of wit, wisdom and occasional inappropriate language,
I understand why I was ostracized for not reading this sooner.
I have long enjoyed Anne Lamott.
I read her Traveling Mercies many years ago and loved her sincerity and her quest for bringing redemption out of rubbish.
Bird by Bird is first a writing manual, but it would be a shame if only people who thought they were writers ever picked up this book.
I have this little habit with books that I purchase and never plan on reselling.
When I find a passage I like or a phrase I need to embed in my brain, I turn up the bottom corner of the page.
On this book,
I was often forced to turn down both corners
and I think the book is thicker by about an inch from all the up-turned pages.
This book reminded me that publication is not the best reason to write.
And I forget that sometimes when I just want to know that someone, anyone, is reading.
When I forget about the process and long for the legitimization that being published brings.
Anne Lamott's writing brings me back to the truth -
the basis of why I pick up a pen or sit down at a keyboard.
And it is always about so much more than the end product, the final draft, the pretty paragraphs.
Writing is about the sitting down.
The pouring forth.
The making sense of the What Is and the What Might Be and the What Can Never Be.
And I probably already knew that.
But Bird by Bird reminded me again.
The book is bursting with simple advice and real world wisdom about the craft of writing.
Which is why I won't be reselling this one.
I'll be placing it on the top shelf of the left hand book case.
The shelf that denotes that I will be reading this work again.