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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

After eavesdropping on a "comment string" between Caprice Hokstead and...either Holly Heisley or Keiki Hendrix (I'm not making those names up) on FB, I bought the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I'd never heard of her. She's a writer, possibly a famous one, and both of those ladies (also writers) had read the book.

I'm about halfway done. Yes, I continue to read Thou Shall Prosper, but Anne's book fits in my purse and has traveled with me these past two weekends. Another reason for writing a smaller book.

Anne and I have about as much in common as Gene Getz and I do. That is to say, nothing. For which, I am grateful.

I have not yet experienced her three-year struggle to produce a novel. Neither of my parents were writers. I do not write about things I remember from my past (I would only write Star Trek or Buck Rogers episodes, with some modifications) or things I see when I turn my head. I am not a voracious reader, although I'm trying to get back in the habit.

TT: You should see my house. Books strewn everywhere. Rabbi Lapin would be proud.

I do not seem to be like Anne's students, either. My one great desire is not publication. Sometimes I wish it were. I do not seek the magic formula for writing a book. Odd, considering how much I like Recipes on FV.

So far, I've enjoyed the Introduction the most. Not that the rest is bad, but Anne has a tendency to write off on a tangent, obviously amused with her own cleverness, and it gets a bit trying at times...

Hmm. Perhaps we have more in common than I thought.

She does remind me very much of a character of mine who joined me early in life (try 5 years old), a little gal by the name of Deborah Ellis. She was not an imaginary friend, simply a character, but she is one of the more complete characters I've not written about yet.

TT: Deborah may end up taking credit for some of my books should I become ridiculously famous and need to disappear.

Deborah writes all the time about everything. Her father is a writer and teacher, and she struggles with perfectionism. She's also got a mother who could be me in a another life. Oh, and she comes with the writer's Best Friend accessory, Tanya Wynn Zakk, the artist. Every writer needs an illustrator, right? As I grew up, I recognized them as my Id and Ego. One day, I hope they will have multiple collections of short stories which only now occur to me will be YA stories.

I guess I found my series.

So, while I don't consciously identify with Anne Lamott, I am underlining parts of the book, and I will finish it and loan it out and do all the things you do with a book you tend to like. I didn't mean to make this a review, but I'll give it 3 buttercups for humor, style and consistency. I hold one back because the language and content is occasionally more coarse than I would generally recommend (not foul but not squeaky clean, either) and one because I haven't yet found that gem of whatever I seem to need to give 5 buttercups.

I haven't found Bird by Bird as useful as Terry Burns' Writers Survival Guide, but I have found it funnier. And for all my reticence, it does keep finding its way into my purse as I leave the house.

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