bird by bird by Anne Lamott

(Random thought before I actually saying anything useful.  The cat photo that WordPress likes to show on the log-in page always makes me wonder if I can actually be a successful novelist if I don’t like cats.  It seems that an inordinate number of authors-at least those with blogs-love cats.  Ah well, if that’s the case, I am doomed.)

OK.  So, now that I got that out of my system.  I promised I’d circle back to bird by bird by Anne Lamott.

I finished it the other night and I would recommend that anyone read it.  She’s witty, self-deprecating, and full of honest writing advice.

A few quotes to entice you to go out and buy the book:

“Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up.” p. 13

“Of course, we enter into a work of fiction to be manipulated, but in a pleasurable way.  We want to be massaged by a masseur, not whapped by a carpet beater.” p. 52

“For the climax, there must be a killing or a healing or a domination.” p. 61

“You need to trust that you’ve got it in you to listen to people, watch them, and notice what they wear and how they move, to capture a sense of how they speak.” p. 68

“There shouldn’t be just a single important character in your work for whom you have compassion.  You need to feel it even for the villain – in fact, especially for the villain.” p. 69

“If your wife locks you out of the house, you don’t have a problem with your door.” p. 178

“Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth.” p. 201

“Writing takes a combination of sophistication and innocence; it takes conscience, our belief that something is beautiful because it is right.  To be great, art has to point somewhere.” p. 205

There are a ton more great quotes in the book.  It’s an easy read and if you have any moments of doubt, it’ll help you get through them.  So read it.  And even if you’re not trying to be a writer, she intersperses it with stories and observations about life that are still worth reading.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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