Anne Lamott is funny. And wise. And generous. And an excellent writer/teacher. You read her words and daydream that you're old friends, that you could call her up in a low moment and ask for advice.
I had heard of her book for a long time from other writers, but it took me until now to read Bird By Bird. I'm so glad I did. Because I've always wanted to be understood, to feel that I'm not so isolated after all. This book provides that connection.
My problems aren't as unique as I once thought. Turns out, I'm a fairly typical writer. I love knowing that.
Stringing words together isn't the easiest of hobbies. It can make you crazy sometimes. Literally. That's why some people quit after a few disappointments, become depressed, or drink copious amounts of alcohol. Bird By Bird makes sense of all this. It compares the evolution of a story to watching a Polaroid photograph develop, the depth and color emerging slowly--and often surprisingly. It says that the happiest, and least insane, writers are those who enjoy the craft itself—they do it without hope of publication or acclaim. It's a labor of love.
Ms. Lamott points out to her writing students that the odds of the writing life bringing "peace of mind and even joy are not that great. Ruin, hysteria, bad skin, unsightly tics, ugly financial problems, maybe; but probably not peace of mind. I tell them that I think they ought to write anyway."
Why go through the hard times, blogging friends? Is it a labor of love for you?
P.S. If you enjoyed Stephen King's On Writing, you'll be a fan of Bird By Bird.