It only took me reading about the first five pages, the first five pages of the introduction, I might add, to know my relationship with this book was going to be of the love/hate variety. With a subtitle like, Some Instructions on Writing and Life how could it not be?
I’ve been writing since I was young. I studied creative writing at university, took every creative writing class I could in middle school and high school, and have started working on two projects I hope will be books one day as of writing this review. I have also been in a serious writing dry spell the last, oh say, several months to a year.
I brought Bird by Bird with me all the way to New Zealand with the intention of reading it in order to reinvigorate my writer’s spirt, which would then allow me to jump back into my writing while I’m living here in this amazing, beautiful, laid back place that’s just brimming with inspiration. And it has certainly reinvigorated me, but in both good ways and bad.
Anne Lamott does a very good job of delivering her writerly advice in easy, understandable terms with the right amount of humor mixed in. The book is light-hearted at the same time it is poignant and a little soul-crushing. Many of the bigger concepts and lessons she is describing in the book I’ve heard one hundred and one times throughout my own writing career (if you want to call it that). But another thing I know is that it never hurts, nay, it is probably a good thing to be constantly reminded of these facts, these rather unfortunate truths of being a writer.
I don’t have a vast collection of writer friends like Lamott seems to have. So I don’t have a whole lot of people to turn to in my times of writerly angst. But having this book on my shelf (now that I’ve actually read it and know all the comforting and not so comforting words it holds) feels like I’ve got some sort of paperback therapist I can call upon to talk me down in times of trouble.
I would recommend this book to new writers and veteran writers alike. Put it on your shelf next to things like Stephen King’s On Writing and The Elements of Style.