I’m reading an amazing craft book on writing: Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott (Random House, New York, 1994). As one critic said:
“Superb writing advice…hilarious, helpful and provocative.”
(New York Times Book Review)
Who wouldn’t love a book that has a chapter called, “Shitty First Drafts.” I’m going through it underscoring almost every line and sticky noting every second page. She distills wisdom into a few words and slides them out to the reader with a wonderful sense of humor that has me laughing at myself and this crazy world. I mark passages, knowing that I will go back to them again and again, like Rumi poetry. Today, I thought I’d share three quotes from the introduction:
1- About being a writer…
“One of the gifts of being a writers is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, as it lurches by and tramps around. ” (xii)
2 -The role of hope in the creative process…
“…hope is a revolutionary patience…Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” (xxiii)
3 – Writing is the gift...
“I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises…the actual act of writing–turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you need the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.” (xxvi)
So…that’s what I’ve been thinking about as I enter the New Year, how grateful I am to be writing. I’ve made “sort-of” resolutions (like shooting a gun) but fear to put them down on paper anywhere. You know what they say, “If you want to make God laugh, show her your plans.” <grin>
Bald eagles, by the way are my favorite bird. I like how they soar and play in the wind, and best of all I like how they lock talons with their mates and plummet from the sky in a death defying dive.
12 Replies to “3 Quotes from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird”
I particularly like the part about SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS. What can I say? It’s resonating like crazy for me today.
I know what you mean. Nora Roberts calls them POSes. Painful to read, eh.
Great to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Looking forward to seeing you at our chapter meeting soon.
Since reading your post I have been turning my bookshelves inside out looking for my copy of “Bird by Bird”. I know it’s in there somewhere. My New Year’s resolutions are very simple – exercise more and write daily – rather than in spurts ‘n starts. I wanted to use the word sparodically, but I can’t find it in two dictionaries ?? Love your quote about the Goddess.
You’ve written beautiful stories that way. I’m looking forward to seeing what you write with your new plan.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Hey, Jo-Ann. As always a thoughty post with humor. Love the picture of the eagle. Such majestic creatures. Is the dive thing how they mate? No so sure I’d be interested in doing it that way. 🙂
But can definitely get behind, “shitty first draft.” Only I’d extend it to probably 2nd or 3rd draft. LOL I’m great at rewriting, but the first stuff comes out really rough! I’ve refrained from saying I’ll lose weight, though that is my perennial resolution. I”d like to say I’ll get organzied. Boy do I need to do that. I’ll get to the study this weekend. I promise. 🙂 Off to edit.
Aaaah Thanks Marsha
You’re the perfect reader. You always find something encouraging to say.
I know what you mean about the multiple drafts. I’ve stopped counting. It’s just too embarrassing. Hope your weekend clean-up goes well. I’m off to tackle the tree.
Oh I’m so pleased that you focused on Ms. Lamott. In my opinion, she is simply brilliant. When I get back home, I plan to re-read this book. I follow her Twitter feeds and they are enlightening as well.
It’s always a good idea to be reminded of many of her simple truths.
Enjoy 2014. May the words flow.
I hope you’re enjoying sunshine. It’s pouring here, just so you know. lol
I’m over-the-top excited about Lamott’s book. She has so much to say. Thanks for the Twitter tip. I’m going to follow her for sure.
Simple truths- that’s a good way of describing her ideas.
Hugs from the north
ps Thanks for the good wishes, and back at you.
I love the third quote. I’m not published, but I used to write all the time. Then I decided to “be a writer” and now I’m stressed:) Gotta get back to enjoying the writing! Thanks.
You’re welcome. It made me feel better too. I’m not published and my sense of the whole thing is that I need to work on my writing and not obsess about publishing at this point. I find her words freeing.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Interesting. I love eagles too. I included a bit about them in describing the hero of Boom! taking the ferry through Active Pass. Happy New Year.
I love sailing through Active Pass It’s, so wild and beautiful with tide pools, fast currents rippling the surface of the water and majestic mountains in the background. It sounds like a great scene and an awesome backlight for your hero.No wonder you sell so well.
I lived up on the Haia Gwaii for thirteen years, and spent a good deal of time on windswept beaches watching eagles. Just thinking about it, relaxes me.They are so “larger than life”.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you have sand between your toes and are enjoying the sunshine.