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Bird by Bird


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About the Author

Anne Lamott is the New York Times bestselling author of Help, Thanks, Wow; Small Victories; Stitches; Some Assembly Required; Grace (Eventually); Plan B; Traveling Mercies; Bird by Bird; Operating Instructions, and the forthcoming Hallelujah Anyway. She is also the author of several novels, including Imperfect Birds and Rosie. A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inductee to the California Hall of Fame, she lives in Northern California.


Author Lamott here discloses that she has intentionally written some books as gifts to family and friends, as portraits of people she has loved. This work is a different kind of present to a less familiar audience of strangers who share a common desire to write. It is a generous offering filled both with specific suggestions as well as brief glimpses into Lamott's life. Her voice is soft but strong as she prods the listener to be persistent above all else. Lamott inspires through examples of her own successes but more often through her failures, all the while sharing practical writing techniques. She explains how to get started as well as how to develop dialog, use index cards to help remember ideas, form writing groups, and cope with anxiety and writer's block. Even for those with no desire to write, this recording, narrated by the author, offers the listener the opportunity to contemplate life one step at a time, or "bird by bird." Recommended.‘Jeanne P. Leader, Western Nebraska Community Coll. Lib., Scottsbluff

"Superb writing advice... hilarious, helpful and provocative." -- New York Times Book Review.

"A warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its treacherous swamps." -- Los Angeles Times. "A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write... sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind -- a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can." -- Seattle Times.

Lamott's ( Operating Instructions ) miscellany of guidance and reflection should appeal to writers struggling with demons large and slight. Among the pearls she offers is to start small, as their father once advised her 10-year-old brother, who was agonizing over a book report on birds: ``Just take it bird by bird.'' Lamott's suggestion on the craft of fiction is down-to-earth: worry about the characters, not the plot. But she's even better on psychological questions. She has learned that writing is more rewarding than publication, but that even writing's rewards may not lead to contentment. As a former ``Leona Helmsley of jealousy,'' she's come to will herself past pettiness and to fight writer's block by living ``as if I am dying.'' She counsels writers to form support groups and wisely observes that, even if your audience is small, ``to have written your version is an honorable thing.'' (Sept.)

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