Book Review: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott


As I sit down to write this review, I’ve got the word “truth” scribbled on my hand and I feel very much like I’ve assumed Ms. Lamott’s voice, which is exactly what she told us Not to Do. Assuming her voice inevitably leads me back to fanfiction, but that’s another discussion for another day.

Truth.

Bird by Bird is equal parts writing and living — as the subtitle says, “Some Instructions on Writing and Life.” What I find most interesting about Bird by Bird is that while Lamott is encouraging us to find the truth in ourselves and let it flow out of our writing, I can tell that she’s writing from the perspective of truth. She is sharing with us her own experience on writing, what works and what doesn’t work.

The most basic advice she gives is to take writing one step at a time. “Put pen to paper,” as I tell my students in ancient Greek fashion.

But what really drives me forward in this novel is how much of Anne Lamott I see in myself. The function of a writer, I think, is two-fold: first, to write (obviously) and second, to inspire others to write. This, as I keep harping on, is the mission of the fffc. If I’ve inspired you to write even 100 words, then I’ve done my job.

A writer is nothing without his reader. Likewise, a reader is nothing without his writer.

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