Review: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and LifeBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d heard about this book for years, but hadn’t read it because I generally prefer to read books about writing theory, rather than “writer-on-writing”/writer’s journey books, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Lamott is serious enough about her craft and herself to bare herself honestly, but not so serious that it’s not clear she is often rolling her eyes, or laughing at herself. She confesses to fears, jealousies, and paranoia, that I know many writers experience (and may not admit to) then describes responses to them, many of which, I hope, are meant as a kind of reductio ad absurdum, showing us just how little power we should give such emotions over our lives, lest we end up so destructive.

I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks they want to write, but isn’t actually getting words down, it will help them decide whether they really want to write or if they are just in love with the idea of “being a (best selling) writer”. Lamott shares her experience – as writer, and daughter of writer – of what “being a writer” isn’t and what publication doesn’t magically bring, and makes it clear that your focus, your passion, your satisfaction must be in the work itself – whether it’s published or not.

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