Monthly Archives: March 2017
Paperback: 272 pages
“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.'”
What I got out of Bird by Bird is the love and respect for the craft. Writers shouldn’t get into writing because they want to be the next John Grisham or Jackie Collins, or to make thousands of dollars, or to see their name up in lights. Writers don’t write for fame, fortune or accolades. They write because they love the art and respect the craft.
This was the first book I’ve read by Anne Lamott, and I enjoyed her voice and writing style. She writes from the heart and in truth about the craft and her life. She doesn’t avoid difficult topics, and tackles them with humor.
She doesn’t sell you pipe dreams or pie in the sky fantasies about writing. She encourages you to write, and not stop, even if your work never gets published.
This excerpt spoke volumes to me:
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose or their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on the boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
All in all, Bird by Bird is a wonderful book which I will read again. This is a book you will want to keep in your library. If you write or want to write, I highly recommend this book.
Anne Lamott is the New York Times bestselling author of Help, Thanks, Wow; Small Victories; Stitches; Some Assembly Required; Grace (Eventually); Plan B; Traveling Mercies; Bird by Bird; Operating Instructions, and the forthcoming Hallelujah Anyway. She is also the author of several novels, including Imperfect Birds and Rosie. A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inductee to the California Hall of Fame, she lives in Northern California.
Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
I’ve had this book on my book shelf for awhile. I was intending to read it, but never got to it until a week ago. Now I could kick myself for not reading it sooner.
In my opinion, On Writing is one of the best books on the craft of writing. Novelist Stephen King gives you the nuts and bolts of what it takes to be a writer.
If I were to sum up the book in a few words, it would be… “Read a lot, Write a lot.”
What I found encouraging (since I don’t have a college degree), is that Stephen King says it is not necessary to attend college to be a writer. He doesn’t deter people from attending college, he just says you don’t need a degree to write books. You just need to read a lot and write a lot. Every day. Without fail.
Writing requires work, discipline and perseverance to succeed. There are no short cuts.
On Writing is a goldmine filled with helpful nuggets. It is the kind of book you want to have in your library to refer to. I highly recommend it.
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy, Revival, and Doctor Sleep. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
How many times have you heard… “I’m a Christian,” “I believe in Jesus,” “God speaks to me.” But when you look closely, you see no evidence of Him.
They profess Christ. They pray. They attend church faithfully, or not. They post Scripture memes on Facebook, and have all their Christianese down pat. Yet, somehow, they carry on as if He doesn’t exist.
They live in outright sin, but think because they were born with gifts and talents, that makes them special and gives them license to do whatever they want. No holds barred. Never once bending their knee and recognizing Jesus as Lord.
They have made a god of their own understanding.
For a couple of years, I went in a different direction. I had stopped reading my Bible and attending Church to assuage my conscience. The deeper I got, the more convicted I felt, until I came to the end of myself.
Whatever you let in, or surround yourself with, will influence you.
I had to make a choice, either I was going to do things my way or God’s way. It wasn’t about what people thought of me, it was about what God thought, and I knew what I needed to do. I needed to break away from all of those associations and influences that had me walking the opposite direction.
Bad company corrupts good morals. (1 Cor. 15:33)
Was it easy? Absolutely not, because I am back at square one. I pressed the reset button and started over again. But this time, I’m doing things God’s way.
The Bible is clear, we can’t live on both sides of the fence. Either we are serving God or the devil, there is no in between.
Some “Christians” will justify what they are doing with a million excuses, which may even sound plausible, but they are deceiving themselves.
This world is governed by the spirit of rebellion.
Ironically, the ones with all the excuses, are the first to criticize those who are actually trying to follow the Bible.
One thing is certain, they may be successful at whatever it is they are doing in the world, but there won’t be any evidence of Jesus in their life. Because they are not pursuing Him, they are chasing after their own worldly pursuits. They made their dream an idol.
Personally, I’d rather be criticized and called names, however unpleasant that is, than bear no fruit in my life.
What about you? What side are you on?