Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book #29: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I tried to read an Anne Lamott book back when I was about 25 or, as I remember it now, young and stupid.

My thoughts on faith and God and all things Scriptural and Biblical and Christian were very structured and rigid and "this-is-how-it's-always-been-and-I-won't-ever-change-my-mind-about-ANYTHING"-ish, and Lamott's free and (sometimes) profanity-laced views on everything that had to do with the above-mentioned list horrified me. I remember putting the book down on my bedside table in disdain and calling a friend (because we didn't text as much back in 2005) and telling her that this book was a bunch of crap.

Like I said, I was young and stupid, and I thought I had it all figured out. If the past 11 years have taught me anything, it's that God doesn't conform to my list of rules. And my list of rules was seriously flawed. 

When I kept seeing this book pop up in my Amazon recommendation list, I was hesitant. Lamott and I had tried to be friends, but it hadn't worked before. But I decided to approach her writing one more time, and I'm so, so glad I did.

The sentences are gorgeous. There's really no other word for it. This book is about writing, and I can honestly say, you don't have to be a writer to love it. I found myself underlining and nodding and (yes, even me!) sometimes tearing up. 

My favorite passage:

“You don't want to spend your time around people who make you hold your breath. You can't fill up when you're holding your breath. And writing is about filling up, filling up when you are empty, letting images and ideas and smells run down like water - just as writing is also about dealing with the emptiness.”

I wanted to share the book with people I love and maybe that I don't love as much as I should. I wanted people to understand it with me. I wanted people to understand me. I wanted to communicate that I've always felt this way, and "oh my goodness, haven't you, too?"

If you can find a book that makes you feel like that, then you've found a keeper. 

And honestly -- isn't there something so amazing about admitting that you've been wrong about something? It makes the joy of re-discovery that much sweeter.

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