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Patti Callahan Henry, speaking to the assembled writer wannabes at a meeting of the Atlanta Writers Club, gasped audibly when she saw the paltry show of hands. She’d asked for a show of hands, certain that almost everyone would have responded in the affirmative, from all those who had read Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird.
I slumped a bit lower in my seat not wanting to admit my ignorance.
“Well you have just GOT to read this book,” Patti said.
And so I did and I will never regret it. The book, in my humble opinion, is a seminal piece on writing for any aspiring writer, but it is also a book of inspiration for life in general.
The premise of the work is that no task is too great if you just get going. The title comes from a tale she tells early on about her brother who had delayed his summer book report, as I remember it, on birds. The night before it was due he was overwhelmed and did not know where to begin. Advice from his very wise father was just to take a fresh piece of paper and start writing, bird by bird.
There are so many wonderful quotes from Anne in this book and in the many others of hers. Here is just sample:
“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”