Brian Curtin's Reviews > Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
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Dec 10, 2010

it was amazing


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Quotes Brian Liked

Anne Lamott
“I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“E.L. Doctorow said once said that 'Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.' You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won't really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we'll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won't wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“We all know we're going to die; what's important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said that you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.)”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. The writer's job is to turn the unspeakable into words - not just into any words, but if we can, into rhythm and blues.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived...Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation... Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist's true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground - you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it's going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“You don't always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“If your wife locks you out of the house, you don't have a problem with your door.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
“You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn't nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


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