Fifteen years after everyone else in the world, I finally read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. Is it overwrought to say the book is 'seminal'? Too bad.
If you haven't read it (or heard of it) it's a lovely, hilarious, heart-warmer of a book that offers "instructions on writing and life." I've been reading it grinningly on the sofa, nodding along with everything she writes and fantasizing about being her when I grow up.
Here's how she ends the book:
Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on the ship.
Isn't that just lovely?
I've been a reader and writer since always. My parents were both primary school teachers and most evenings after dinner, we'd read. Even before I could read by myself, I remember sitting next to my dad on the plaid living room sofa listening to him read The Witch of Blackbird Pond or The Bronze Bow. I loved the idea of being an author and wrote many, many stories prominently featuring families of talking mice. Or frontier families. Or families of talking frontier mice.
I loved signing up for the summer reading program at the library and I seem to remember my parents actually encouraging relatives to buy me sports equipment for Christmas because I was "spending too much time inside." I definitely remember that I wasn't allowed to read until my room was clean.
I still read voraciously and I love finding those sorts of books that are so good I wish I could read them for the first time again. I (obviously) still write constantly, though these days my writing are more non-fiction than frontier-mice based.
How many of you guys consider yourselves writers? What's your writing form of choice? What are your favorite books? Mine are Running In the Family, We Were The Mulvaneys, Cloudstreet and just about everything by Kurt Vonnegut and David Sedaris.