Bird by Bird: Book, Blurb & Collage

bird by bird, Anne Lamott.jpg

This is a quote collage I tossed together to highlight some of the content from the book.  Clicking the image will send you over to Flickr where you can view it in high-res.  This is free to share and use however you would like.

I finished reading Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird, a couple weeks ago and am happy to share it with all of you today.  This is a call-to-action book about writing that I would highly recommend.  It was suggested to me by theherdlesswitch, here on the blog.  Thanks for pointing me toward such a fun book.

bird by bird.jpgIf you’re unfamiliar with Lamott’s voice and style, it’s witty and has some kick to it.  For me, that’s always a plus.  What she does amazingly well is talk from the heart about the struggles most writers face (more on that in a second).  It’s unapologetic, truthful, and very easy to connect with.

Given I’ve read a gazoodle (a number more than ten and less than twenty) call-to-action books now, many of the subjects she covers have been tread upon before.  As with many of these autobiographical type writing books, she pulls from personal experiences to drive her agenda.  For me, it was an effective and entertaining read.

I will say that Lamott often makes it feel like writing is akin to having your skin peeled from your body while being whipped with lemon-soaked rags.  With that being said, if you are riding the euphoric waves of writing right now, you may feel slightly disconnected from the content of this book.  But eventually (and unfortunately) those waves are going to likely break and the riptides of self-doubt, jealousy, and self-loathing are going to start pulling on your ankles.  When that happens, this book might just be what you need to stay afloat.

The book is broken down into four main sections (1) Writing, (2) The Writing Frame of Mind, (3) Help Along the Way, and (4) Publication—And Other Reasons to Write.

Corey Truax.jpg

One of my photos from back in the day.  Marines carried rocks to build land bridges to allow vehicles to reach a village that had been destroyed by a mudslide in the Philippines in 2006. 

Personally, I really enjoyed her insights on publication.  My focus is often on pushing the product to publication, and I think we all have varying expectations when it comes to this.  Back when I was a military journalist, I can remember when a story I wrote was circulated globally for the first time.  News outlets from around the world began snatching up the story and publishing it.

Guess what though, no one really cared.  Network news didn’t email me and ask me to come work for them when I got out of the Navy.   Half of those places stripped my name from photos and the story and replaced it with, “Courtesy of U.S. Navy.”  The friends I grew up with didn’t start flooding my inbox with virtual congratulations.  Now, I can’t even find those news stories when I search for them online—I can only find the corresponding photographs I took to accompany them.  I tossed one on here for you all to check out.

That was my first taste of publication “glory” and it wasn’t the last time this would happen.  My expectations for my current works (Wastelander and the novella) are tapered by these experiences.  Books like, Bird by Bird, really force us to look at our current works with realistic expectations and understand the struggles we face as writers are struggles that are shared collectively.

question-markThat’s it for today.  If you are curious about some of the other writing books I have read you can check out a listing of them I made by clicking right here.  I’m constantly eating my greens and I encourage you to do the same.  If you have a book recommendation, I would love to hear about it!  I’m always looking for more books to devour.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

28 responses

  1. You don’t have a search box on your blog. I though of searching for bird by bird, seeing if any comments pop up, but there’s no box.

    True insight. I worked on a map for university with a couple of other students. We fought for even small recognition so we could add it to the resume. The professor allowed to put our names, and a year later had others remake it and there are no our names or new names. Such is life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought the search box for my blog was locating in the top left hand (now I’m worried I’m the only one who can see it).

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing you personal experience. I’m with you on the pain of building resumes. It stinks when people want to leverage your hard work without giving you any credit or allowing you to utilize the hard work in a portfolio. I think it’s worse when you had your name on the product and someone else comes by and removes it.

      Like you said though, such is life. It’ll take more than a few low-blows to stop our forward momentum!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Michael Seidel, writer and commented:
    I think most writers I’ve encountered have discovered Bird by Bird. It’s a powerful book, and helpful to struggling new writers. I recommend it to other writers. It may not resonate with you, but give it a shot. You never know which book holds the key that helps you move forward, and if you dismiss them without reading them, you may never find your key.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you on the humor. I think that is what propelled me through the book so quickly. Without it, the book would have been a little dark for my tastes. Sometimes it’s hard for me to relate to folks like Lamott and Stephen King who talk about their writing life getting so depressing they turn to drugs and alcohol, but there is a bit of self-depreciating honesty there as well. Sort of a cautionary tale for us to ogle at and try to avoid in our own lives.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with the book.

      Like

  3. Hey Corey,
    Do you have just a list of all the books you recommend? I am intending on having a look as soon as I get a chance to, but seeing as you recommend so many good books and I’ve recently developed a taste for greens…
    Another great post. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did compile a list of 20 writing books I have read, which I linked to the end of this post (I think I did at least…). I’m the worst when it comes to recommending books because I’m a really forgiving reader, especially when it comes to non-fiction. If a book gives me just a couple new ways of approaching material, in my eyes, it’s a good book. However, I’ve noticed (especially looking through goodReads reviews) that my thoughts on the value of a book often run contrary to the herd.

      With that being said, if there is a specific type of book you were considering, I could offer my two cents. By type, I mean (1) call-to-action books, (2) books specifically on a certain element of writing, (3) editing books, (4) books on grammar and punctuation, and (5) the list goes on.

      Let me know and thanks for swinging by today, Andrew. Try not to get those greens stuck in your teeth!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I typed a blog about discouragement on Saturday. I’m not sure when I’ll post it, but reading your comments sort of got me thinking about it. I got a huge kick out of my first photo on Navy.mil. I STILL have the first story that ran on Page A9 (feature story) of the Flagship. Now, I have a more accurate understanding about what those things mean, but it’s still an accomplishment. I deal with disappointment every day, but I always expect greatness of myself. I read the rough draft of Wastelander (or at least a fair piece of it), and you should expect good things. You have a better plan. And even if your expectations aren’t met, you’ve still accomplished something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know I have the articles saved from the various publications they ran in, hidden away on one of my many external hard drives. But it is sad (in an egotistical way) to not be able to simply use a search engine to find them anymore. It makes me really realize the temporary nature of some of the work we do, despite the historical significance.

      Thanks for the kind words about Wastelander, Matt. I think I’ll get to start hammering down on rewrites here in a few weeks and will likely be sending them your way when as I finish them. Hopefully some of the sweeping revisions work for you. Best of luck with your Caught revisions, the time is getting near for you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for these suggestions and for reading today, Sharon. I think it’s interesting how The Art of War has so many applications. I think I had two or three different classes in college that all had that book as required reading, and each class used the reading to teach a different point. I will absolutely check out Heretics and Outliers.

      Thanks again for the suggestions 😀

      Like

  5. I think you should read the writing of, (wait for it, although I know you won’t be surprised), my all time favorite author Jude Deveraux. She has a very unique style. Dec ribbing with such great detail I find myself transported to that Era of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll just have Heather read Deveraux and she can give me the cliff notes 😉 Hah! I’m so swamped with work right now I’m lucky to get “required” reading done these days. I’ve been trying to focus on non-fiction because it’s reading I can use here on the blog too. Thanks for leaving a suggestions and for stopping in today, Kim. We all miss you here in S.C.

      Like

  6. Pingback: Zen in the Art of Writing: Book, Blurb & Collage « Quintessential Editor

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