Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 11th: Bird by Bird

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is a now-classic book for writers about writing. However, I was not aware of it until the summer of 2003, when I attended a National Writing Project summer institute. Either I was one of the few people who hadn't read the book, or I was the only one--what I remember most was the collective disbelief and incredulity: "You MUST read Anne Lamott! This book is amazing!"

At my first opportunity, I bought the book at Barnes and Noble and started to read.

I had been writing and teaching writing for a decade by this point, and I was well versed in the writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, publishing). But I don't think I ever felt permission to write truly awful prose until I read this book. There was something about her calling it a "s#!tty" first draft that freed me to write things I hadn't written that summer, to examine instruction in new ways, and to finally, bravely call myself a writer.

Giving me permission to try new things opened up my world that summer, both as a writer and as a teacher.

I count it a coup that when I taught a writing across the curriculum workshop the following spring at the high school where I taught (and where I'd just resigned to stay home for a year), I got the football coach to write a moving personal narrative paragraph and say, "I enjoyed this."

To read more of this #31DaysofBooks series, visit the introduction post.

1 comment:

Beth said...

My husband has this book and I have never read it.

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