|The sticky notes are wherever I underlined...yup, this book is something!|
Thank goodness for the blogging community: once I say I'm going to do a thing, there are suddenly people who expect me to do it! In the midst of a busy month, I definitely would have swept Bird by Bird off to the side once again, and then I would have missed gems like this one:
“Think of how many times you have opened a book, read one line, and said, “Yes!” And I want to give people that feeling, too, of connection, communion.” (p. 204)
I found that, with quotes like this one, this book resonated more with me as a reader than as a writer. Anne Lamott does an exceptional job of conveying the value of words. She talks about them as a writer, as someone who wants to create words that have that kind of value:
“That is what I’m talking about: you want your readers’ eye-motes to go click! with recognition as they begin to understand one of your characters, but you probably won’t be able to present a character that recognizable if you do not first have self-compassion.” (p. 98)
As of yet, I don't think I've written anything that would cause any clicking of the eye-motes. But that doesn't mean I didn't find this book to be valuable to my writing. Lamott offers a mix of big ideas about writing and nuts-and-bolts advice, some of which tickled just the right part of my brain to make me entirely re-think my WiP! In particular, this idea, which Lamott returned to several times, really grabbed me:
“If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don’t ever bother finishing, that you lose interest or faith in them along the way, it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately. You need to put yourself at their center, you and what you believe to be true or right. The core, ethical concepts in which you most passionately believe are the language in which you are writing.” (p. 103)
I realized that this was true of much of my WiP. So I have a second bunch of orange sticky notes, things that came to me one after the other after the other--things I believe, realizations I've had over the course of my life that feel like my stories to tell. And I thought about my characters, and it turns out I was trying to put them into the wrong story. I mean, wildly wrong. Like, one of my narrators/MCs might not even be a character any more. But the speed with which the new story fell into place makes me think I'm actually on the right track.
Overall, I don't think I feel as completely in thrall to Bird by Bird as some people do. But there were dozens of moments that leapt out at me, that spoke to me as a reader or a writer, and I'm really glad I stuck with it this time.
And, speaking of the awesome community that got me to actually read this, check out these posts by my blog pals, giving their takes on Bird By Bird:
- "Beluga by Beluga" by Jaime Morrow
- "That Still Small Voice" by Sara Biren
- "Bird by Bird and Refueling" by Erin L. Funk
And don't forget: my February Compliment Challenge starts tomorrow! Please join in and tell someone why they're awesome tomorrow!