I had heard about the impact of Bird by Bird in various writing circles through the years. It was one of those books that conjured up a desperation in the sharer’s face. With scrunched cheeks and evened out eyebrows, she’d speak with the intensity of somebody calling a person back from the ledge. “You’ve got to read this book.” And as I listened, I let the words swirl around, but they would not yet land on my already full calendar. But the intensity with which the message was delivered kept the title tucked away somewhere. And now I know why.
Lamott, a writer who has reached every plateau of publishing success, tells the truth about what it really means to pursue such madness. Her rendition of a writer’s insecurities put names to the characters who follow me around each day. This made me feel known and understood. I somehow felt less haunted. Tears poured down my cheeks and my stomach muscles ached. She’d given me permission to laugh at myself, and because of this, my spirit was lifted to new heights.
With composure and tact, Lamott dares to debunk every myth we’ve ever believed about what it means to pursue publication. I came away with a new reverence for the hard work that goes into being brave enough to write. And because she shared with such honesty, I will also be able to entertain the little moments of magic. But no longer, will I be ruled by them.
The book’s message is a cry for humanity and the need to look outside of ourselves long enough to consider giving back. Writing demands that we take the time to be filled, whether that means working in the garden, placing ourselves at the center of a party or getting lost in a deep conversation with a friend. This is not simply for the sake of becoming whole, but it is encouraged so that we can turn around and invest in somebody else.
I’ve been deeply inspired and my whole outlook on writing will never be the same. I highly recommend this book for anybody who’d be interested in writing. But even more, this book is for anybody who feels courageous enough to stare their fears in the face, invite them to have a seat, and to be willing to learn from each one.
What have you read recently that has changed your whole outlook on life?