Helen Palmer (nice_cup_of_tea) wrote,
Helen Palmer

Bird by Bird - First book of 2008 and a 10/10!

This wonderful book is a book about writing and life. The Author has a funny, wise, and warm writing voice. As a reader we feel included and supported. Although the book addresses writing techniques and helps to solve motivation, it also has a much wider application. Namely, how do we live compassionately and morally in this world? Who I am? How do I relate to people? How do I write communicate my truth in writing? The author uses stories from her life to illustrate writing points and I had a sense of getting to know the important people in her life.

Some of her top tips
Good writing is about telling the truth
Just get started! Writing is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. Just start writing
short assignments - just write what you can see through a one inch picture frame
Shitty first drafts (enough said!)
Perfectionism is the main obstacle between you and the shitty first draft

"Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something - anything - down on paper." (p25)

"Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clear up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived." (p28)

"Perfectionism, on the other hand, will only drive you mad." (p31)

Jealousy is a secondary emotion, born out of feeling excluded and deprived. (126)

We compare our insides with other people's outsides. (p126)

One of her friends describes himself as a "cheerful pessimist" (206)

On Paranoia, she quotes this poem by Philip Lopate (p11/12)
We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to diappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. So many ideas, so many inputs from her. She has a clear headed view of the hard work that is writing. Even though I have not written a book, much of the emotions and ideas she expressed were recognisable for me, as I struggled through my research thesis! I wish I had know then about the shitty first draft and the on inch picture frame!
Tags: books, writing

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