Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
The Book That Changed My Life
Ever since I was a kid, I dreamt that one day I might be a writer. I had this fantasy that I could write a novel like Hemingway or some other great writer. While I was having this fantasy, I went to college, law school, became a lawyer, got married and started a family. I was busy trying to earn a living and be a husband and father—a productive guy of some sort. Writing a novel remained a dream until I read Anne Lamott’s book about creative writing, “Bird by Bird.” The title comes from her older brother who was doing a research paper about birds when Anne was a little girl. Apparently he was overwhelmed with the task—and his dad took him aside and told him not to fret but just to take it “bird by bird.” He wanted his son to know that he was more than able to complete his project. Lamott’s thoughtful, passionate and inspiring book did the same thing for me. It brought the writing process into clear focus and within my reach for the first time. Anne Lamott accomplished this not only by giving much practical advice about “awful first drafts,” dialogue and a host of other things, but primarily in her message that the only way to be a writer was to write, be persistent and never give up on yourself.
Although I have not yet published that novel, I now work at my writing regularly and get much joy out of that wonderful and stubborn creative process. I think I owe that joy to Anne Lamott and her little book,“Bird by Bird.”