Review by Jaleesa Bucheli
Not like your usual writing guidebook, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life allows readers to learn about writing, what comes with it and most importantly, life. Anne Lamott uses her experiences in writing that followed her throughout her life and transforms it into a guide to the writer’s world for her readers. For anyone who writes or wants to write, she makes it clear that there is only one choice available, commitment to the process of writing. Anne Lamott says, "The real payoff is the writing itself, that a day when you have gotten your work done is a good day, that total dedication is the point". Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life was originally published in New York, 1994 by Pantheon Books and with it came great success.
Apart from this book, Lamott is the author of seven novels including All New People, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, etc. She is also known for her best selling books of nonfiction, Operating Instructions and Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son, and Bird by Bird.
This book is a great read because it is not like your ordinary instruction manual book to writing, instead, they’re stories which allows readers to relate to the writer and her journey to writing and the obstacles she had to overcome. Readers build an understanding of the writing world. We are lead to know that sometimes it is hard, you don’t always get what you expect, things don’t always go as planned, but regardless one should never give up and should continue writing if that is what you love to do. This is what Lamott tries to explain throughout her book, Bird by Bird.
One thing that I enjoyed about this reading is the example that the author gives on one of her published works about her father’s diagnosis with brain cancer. Her father had advised her to turn this tragedy into a story. He told her to pay attention and to take notes, and eventually these writings became short stories that later became published a year after her father’s death. With this example, Lamott demonstrates that although she had her first ever publication, it was not all happiness and success. She still had a lot of work to do, and she explains her journey with her continued writing. Anne Lamott is a serious writer, but at the same time she is honest and puts a piece of herself in each writing which allows her work to become real.