Lit I Love, Title 2: Bird by Bird

Bird-by-Bird-image1The proof is on my Amazon account. “You purchased this book in 2005.” I’ve loved this book for a long time. 2005 was a turning point in my life as a writer. It was the year I went from maybe this writing thing is for me to I’m going to write! But I needed some help, so I asked around, “any recommendations for a novice writer?”

Without hesitation, “Bird-by-Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by, Anne Lamott,” friends would offer in reverent tones, its esteemed adoration apparent.

They were right, too. Just look at the opening lines, “…good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are.” Regardless of what you write, that’s the essence of it. Whether you’re a comedian, a journalist, a blogger, or novelist, that is the point. We’re all just reading and writing to figure out who we are.

Anne Lamott understands the creative process, she knows what a writer needs to hear and be reminded of, and she does it with great wit. The lessons in this book are helpful for writers at any stage of their career.

I did fail one lesson, though, the one on “shitty first drafts”. Granted, I read Bird by Bird right before I embarked on my first ever NaNoWriMo experience, and though in real life I am not a “pantster”, I was feeling brave and had this permission to write shitty, so I went for it. In the end, my poo-laden, mostly-finished first draft still waits in a virtual drawer in the hopes that it’ll fertilize a brand new book in the future. It was so thick with the stuff that I couldn’t get it clean. I realized, I need to go into first drafts with my overalls, boots, and gloves on. Mucking around? Yes, but not so much that the smell won’t ever come off.

I still turn to Lamott for inspiration and instruction, though now it tends to be more for life than writing. How about you? Have you read it? Are you a fan of Lamott? What books helped inform you on your vocational path?

Thanks for reading!


Readers, I’m looking for guest authors for this blog. Is there a piece of literature that’s inspired you? Maybe it helped you see the world differently, maybe it helped you make an important decision, or maybe it made you realize you weren’t alone in the world. If you’re not brave enough to post, I could tweak your submission (with your approval) & post it. Comment here, or email me, if you’re willing.



    Lit I Love, title 1: The Poisonwood Bible

    poisonwoodbibleVery few books will keep me up all night. I love a good story. I am eager to finish a good story, but generally, I won’t give up sleep for them. This one was different. I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver about twelve years ago. I can remember where I was sitting. I can remember it was extremely cold out but nothing, not even my stinging, watery eyes would keep me from finishing that story. It’s a compelling tale of a family, that travels to the Congo in Africa, as missionaries. Now, some background, as a teenager I really thought that would be my vocation, to be a missionary in the Congo. Gratefully, God and life showed me otherwise, but on that level alone, this book had me hooked. Kingsolver has no trouble sucking me into her fictional worlds regardless of which book I pick up. Her prose, her attention to detail, and her sly ability to weave in culturally relevant and historical events, astounds me. Even her non-fiction Animal, Vegetable, Miracle had my rapt attention. What made this novel special for me though, was being able to see it through the eyes of the four daughters featured in the story. When I heard Kingsolver interviewed about it later, I couldn’t believe she’d written the entire thing from each of the daughters’ perspectives and then went back and chose which chapters from each character suited the story best. It lit something in me that was only starting to flicker. This ember that would grow into me trying my own pen at writing novels. Ever since Poisonwood Bible, I knew that if I wrote a novel, I’d do it with that kind of care. I’d learn what I could from the masters and try to apply it to my work. I can’t claim that I’ll ever come close, but this story is what started it for me. And it’s why it needed to be the first of these entries.

    I hope you enjoyed this. If you’ve read The Poisonwood Bible, I’d love to hear your take on it. I’m also curious what authors, books, blogs, poems, and articles have inspired you. Please feel free to comment below. I do moderate them due to the proclivity for spam, but I’ll be quick about approving so they can be posted for others to see and interact with.

    Thanks for reading!

      Welcome to Lit I Love!

      Welcome to Lit I Love!, a blog dedicated to the literature that inspires me. Every post will feature a piece of literature. I’ll be sharing things that relate to the projects I’m working on, pieces that fuel me to keep writing, stories that have kept my reader’s heart happy from childhood, and everything in between. I will always include links back to the sources because I believe it’s crucial for readers to interpret things themselves. What one article speaks to me, may be shouting or singing to you. You deserve to discover it yourself.

      I look forward to hearing your take on my inspiration, and I’m eager to learn about what inspires you.

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