BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott
I believe in signs just like Mos Def’s character in 16 Blocks. The Universe sends signs to guide us from the time we are born. We miss out on a lot of signs when we’re young because we’re busy screaming for attention, or struggling against the flow of life. But once we reach a certain age, which is different for everyone, the signs offered to us are unavoidable. The ones we need the most are the ones we listen to because they fall on our heads like Chicken Little’s sky. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird cracked open my skull.
I was loading my tote with essentials for a two-hour train trip to New York City: cell, money, gloss, lotion, pens, paper, highlighters and books. I finished In One Person the night before so I snatched up Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs from one of my TBR piles and Bird by Bird fell out of another. I bought Lamott’s book on writing three years ago and never even took a gander. So why did it fall? The time was ripe.
I opened Bird by Bird as the train rolled out of the station. By the time I returned home, in the early hours of the next morning, I felt less alone, more grounded in purpose and eager to tackle the next phase of rewrites on my WIP.
Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up.
We need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here—and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.
Nuggets like these remind us to trust ourselves. We are all uniquely formed with a specific point of view that needs to be shared. The passions that connect us with other people in the flesh do not need to be hidden on the page. Our passions need to be plumbed. When we dig deep enough what we write will find its audience.
Anne Lamott recognizes our need to acknowledge who we are, encourages us to share our truth and gives those of us who need it, permission to take all the time we need to grow into ourselves and find our voice.
Bird by Bird is one of the best gifts I have ever given to myself. Not reading it for three years is the bonus. A month ago I reread the latest draft of my WIP. While the second half holds promise, the opening needs a funeral. As an acting coach and an Alexander teacher, I remind my students that the end of one thing is the beginning of the next. Trusting this natural segue eliminates false starts, forced emotions and leads to a natural, vulnerable truth. I know this and yet, the thought of beginning my novel again, made me wonder if a lobotomy might be a better choice at this juncture in time.
Then Bird by Bird fell out of my TBR pile.
If you want to get to know your characters, you have to hang out with them long enough to see beyond all the things they are not.
Is there any better way to say, “kill your darlings to make way for the truth”? Thanks Anne Lamott. Thank you for inspiring the writer in all of us.
Unleash your passion with Bird by Bird.