Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

4.1 117
by Anne Lamott
     
 

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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… See more details below

Overview

"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.'"

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Superb writing advice... hilarious, helpful and  provocative." -- New York Times Book  Review.

"A warm, generous and  hilarious guide through the writer's world and its  treacherous swamps." -- Los Angeles  Times.

"A gift to all of  us mortals who write or ever wanted to write...  sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately  cranky and kind -- a reveille to get off our duffs  and start writing now, while we  still can." -- Seattle  Times.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lamott's ( Operating Instructions ) miscellany of guidance and reflection should appeal to writers struggling with demons large and slight. Among the pearls she offers is to start small, as their father once advised her 10-year-old brother, who was agonizing over a book report on birds: ``Just take it bird by bird.'' Lamott's suggestion on the craft of fiction is down-to-earth: worry about the characters, not the plot. But she's even better on psychological questions. She has learned that writing is more rewarding than publication, but that even writing's rewards may not lead to contentment. As a former ``Leona Helmsley of jealousy,'' she's come to will herself past pettiness and to fight writer's block by living ``as if I am dying.'' She counsels writers to form support groups and wisely observes that, even if your audience is small, ``to have written your version is an honorable thing.'' (Sept.)
Library Journal
Author Lamott here discloses that she has intentionally written some books as gifts to family and friends, as portraits of people she has loved. This work is a different kind of present to a less familiar audience of strangers who share a common desire to write. It is a generous offering filled both with specific suggestions as well as brief glimpses into Lamott's life. Her voice is soft but strong as she prods the listener to be persistent above all else. Lamott inspires through examples of her own successes but more often through her failures, all the while sharing practical writing techniques. She explains how to get started as well as how to develop dialog, use index cards to help remember ideas, form writing groups, and cope with anxiety and writer's block. Even for those with no desire to write, this recording, narrated by the author, offers the listener the opportunity to contemplate life one step at a time, or "bird by bird." Recommended.Jeanne P. Leader, Western Nebraska Community Coll. Lib., Scottsbluff

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385480017
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/1995
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
29,853
Product dimensions:
4.13(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.58(d)

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