06 April 2014

Bird by Bird - Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott [1995]

This is a book about writing which I read about a few months ago on www.brainpickings.org.  I picked it up because I am very interested in how creative people work.

The book is full of advice about writing, mixed in with the author's own reflections on life and death. The core advice running through the book is that one should write as much as possible and avoid the destructive pitfalls of perfectionism. It is really well-written - there is an earnest US self-help tone but this is tempered by barbed lances of self-deprecating humour which are unexpected and which leaven the tone completely.  One example:

"Maybe what you care most about are fasting and high colonics -  cappuccino enemas, say.  This is fine, but we do not want you to write about them; we will secretly believe that you are spiritualising your hysteria. There are millions of people already doing this at churches and new age festivals across the land."

I thought the phrase "spiritualising your hysteria" completely fantastic and worth the cost of the book alone.

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