Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
As I read this book, subtitled "Some Instructions on Writing and Life", I took notes. Pages and pages of notes. Sometimes it felt as if the author was just putting my own thoughts into words, like she had seen into my soul and decided to write a book about it. Now, I have to acknowledge here that I don't share all of the author's opinions on life. I don't share her penchant for the use of some colorful language. But, my goodness, some of the things she brought to light, really inspired me.
The fact that I keep a blog only serves as evidence that I like to write. I don't know who all reads what I write here, if only one or two. But even if not for those one or two, I would still write because, honestly, I don't really write FOR anyone. I don't write so my words will be read, but to live. It is an outlet, this stringing together of words, for my soul.
So, my notes on the book...as I said, I took pages and pages of notes. And I really wanted to share some of the things that inspired me. Some of the these are direct quotes from the author (anything in quotations is hers unless otherwise cited). Some of the words are my own ideas that came to life as I read.
- "Writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around."
- The writer becomes present in the every moment, living in awe of the beautiful messiness of life. Writing deepens and widens and expands our sense of life. It gifts to us the freedom to dance with the absurd.
- "A writer is someone on whom nothing is lost." -Henry James
- "One can find in writing a perfect focus for life. It offers challenge and delight and agony and commitment."
- The act of writing, as a journey, is the reward.
- "You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words."
- Keep notes of the wonderful things: the details, snippets, ideas, and images.
- "Unbidden, seemingly out of nowhere, a thought or image arrives. They're often so rich, these unbidden thoughts, and so clear, that they feel indelible."
- Strive to dive below the surface where life is cold and confusing and hard to see. Plunge through the holes wherein exist all sorts of possibility to glimpse the wonder. Go through that locked door, see the bleak unspeakable stuff and turn it into words.
- Write without fear, save the fear of NOT writing. Write directly. Write straight. Write vulnerable.
- Care about the truth. Write from that place of simplicity deep in your soul. Write for an audience of one or two. Or write for yourself. Whatever keeps it honest.
And one last quote, although this was not from the book at all. I came across this later but it has proven true to me time and again as I write, or as I read.
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.” -Alan Bennett