Bird by Bird is a book about the creative spirit and inner life of one who will forever be considered a saint among her flock. Anne Lamott, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hiking the AT, reveals her own journey as she chronicles her life as an artist, mother, wife, and most of all as a writer. The book covers themes of introspection, creativity and disability—all with the gentle humor that’s defined Anne’s writing from day one.
Sometimes it takes a long time to gather information, to draft and revise a document, to assemble research for a book like this one. Sometimes we say that a book is worth writing only when we’re busy at the typewriter. Far more often, though, writing it is hard because it’s messy and full of gaps – things we wish we’d known before starting to write the book. This memoir is an account of such preparation – intimate, personal, sometimes painful memories gathered over several months while writing Bird by Bird.”
In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott urges readers to embrace the daily delights of writing and publishing. In a wildly funny and inspiring book about the creative life, she not only offers wise advice for beginning writers (and those who want to be) but also tells stories about her own journey along the way—from becoming friends with Flannery O’Connor to launching her first book of poetry.
Thirty years ago, Anne Lamott was at the kitchen table of her family cabin in Bolinas, California, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds. Her brother was immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead: to write a report on birds they’d had three months to write.
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“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” “Character,” “Plot,” “Dialogue.” all the way from “False Starts” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses “Writers Block,” “Writing Groups,” and “Publication.” Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.
If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the artist’s life, she turns to the art of life.c