Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bird by Bird

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"

Ten years ago I read my first Anne Lamott novel, Traveling Mercies, Some Thoughts on Faith, it started a memorable summer of reading every book she had written. I reserved the best for last, since the last thing I thought I would be interested in, was writing. Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life, turned out to be my hands down favorite and had such an impact on me I subsequently ordered 6 copies from Amazon and sent them off one by one to my friends. I raved and also sent one to my main client at the time, David Pogue, editor and publisher of the Missing Manuals books that I was illustrating the covers for, who is now Tech Guru and columnist for The New York Times. In retrospect, I can't help but wonder what he thought, that I was suggesting he could use some writing help... fortunately, I distinctly remember discussing how floored I was by the hysterically irreverant prose and how applicable it was not just to writing, but to the creative process in general- and life. It was a hilarious and inspiring book to say the least, and her ability to be sarcastic and wise spoke to my heart and rattled my cages in more ways than one.
Lately I have suggested the book to two of my friends who I find to be fantastic writers, and have been encouraging them to start a blog. Normally I buy used books on Amazon, and this morning when I logged on, I was shocked to see the limited copies available and ridiculously high prices for the few available print copies for sale there. I did Google, locate and order one elsewhere but in the thrill of the hunt I spotted a link for a digital edition. There was Bird by Bird for Kindle and also a link for reading books on your Mac, the download for which I will link here for my fellow Mac users...Kindle for Mac
I have been researching the online digital publishing sites popping up on the web out there, and I am incredulously impressed with the ease of upload and advance in readability, its truly come a long way, and I think its about to take a giant leap forward with the release of the new iPad by Apple. Take a look at the software linked here, and if you don't have an Amazon Kindle, there is a link in the right column of my blog to check them out and order one. Thanks for reading my ramblings and have a fine feathered day.... click by click.


Ruth said...

Bird by bird. Well that's just about the best advice I've heard in a while, for writing, or for living in the moment. Thank you for this book recommendation.

Leah Fry said...

I love that book. I have read it 3x. It never gets old.

RoSe said...

Leah, I recall you were one of my six thought about you when i wrote this post.