Bird by Bird

“Out of the right speaker in your inner ear will come the endless stream of self-aggrandizement, the recitation of one’s specialness, of how much more open and gifted and brilliant and knowing and misunderstood and humble one is. Out of the left speaker with be the rap songs of self-loathing, the lists of all the things one doesn’t do well, of all the mistakes one has made today and over an entire lifetime…” (Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott)

Bird by Bird CoverReading Anne Lamott is an experience akin to spending an afternoon chatting with a beloved, slightly annoying, friend. Sometimes she’ll ramble around conversationally, telling anecdote after anecdote, outrunning and completely forgetting her original point. Other times, she’ll confess something so intimate and original that you’ll feel less ashamed and alone in the world because you share your monstrous/weird/selfish thoughts with another person who seems to be doing OK.

I can’t help but compare Bird by Bird, a guide to creativity and writing, to An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, a guide to creativity and cooking. While Lamott shares excerpts from her life and her experience, not wishing to impose upon the reader, Adler prescribes, bullies, and threatens, aiming to change the readers’ ideas using whatever method possible. I think that both guides could be excellent in a creative crisis. You could come to Lamott for a little sympathy and inspiration, then go to Adler to be smacked over the head with the rolling pin of self-confidence. Personally, I think that this type of guide should be written for all types of art – so that we could look through the narrow lens of each subject to see how to live a creative life.

Does anyone have a recommendation for their favorite guide to creativity and [insert art subject]?

Recommended Action: BuyBorrow – TBR Avoid
Length: 237 pgs.
Ending: the cathartic writing experience
Incidental Learning: how writers live
Further Reading: The Everlasting Meal, or any other creative guide you’ve come across.

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3 thoughts on “Bird by Bird

  1. Well done. I’ve love Lamott’s book for a long time, and will check out Adler. As for recommendations, as much as people want to discount him, Stephen King’s On Writing works really well. Shockingly, so does Keith Richards’ Life. Walter Mosley’s This Year You Write Your Novel does a pretty great job of convincing that such an undertaking is as doable as going to the supermarket. Elmore Leonard’s “10 Rules for Writing” is indispensable. How’s that for starters?

  2. Perfect! I absolutely believe Stephen King’s could be wonderful, especially after reading “11/22/63”. I hadn’t heard of the others before. I feel like ‘writing + creativity’ guides get the lion’s share of the creativity guide market simply because writers love to write about writing! I’d love to see a book on music + creativity, painting + creativity, or sewing + creativity. Any recommendations about those?

  3. Pingback: On Writing | Book Lion

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