©1994 Anne Lamott; (P)1996 by The Audio Partners Publishing Corp.
"This humorous, insightful approach reminds us why we are writing: to tell the truth, to live from the heart, and to share that gift with others." (Kirkus Reviews)
When I first heard her reading style, I thought, "Oh no, this is going to be the audio equivalent of eating a box of chalk – dry, tasteless and really hard to get down". But, as it turned out, she's really funny in a monotone kind of way and has some useful, straight advice.
I like her perspective on writing.
This book was like a warm embrace by a good friend; a rare friend, one who doesn't judge you because of the mistakes you've made, or make fun of you for the resentment you feel for other's good fortune. She's been there, too. This book changed my life, and not just because Anne made me understand that even the best of writers don't wake up with a book in their head, but because life is all about taking one step at a time. "Bird by bird" is the only way to dig out from under the weight of the world.
I agree with the other reviewers that the audio quality of this audiobook is very poor, but the content makes the effort of listening well worth your while. I found what the author has to say so useful and clever that, after listening, I ordered a print copy so that I could read the unabridged version.
Science writer in America's heartland
This book was strongly recommended to me by a very accomplished and talented creative nonfiction writer, but I didn't find it nearly as useful as she did. There are some good pieces of advice here, but nothing that I would call earth-shattering. Also, having the author as narrator is often a good thing for a book, but in this case, it isn't. I felt that her performance was somewhat wooden. I'd say the book was not bad, but not great, either.
As a writer, I was looking for a little inspiration. I picked the wrong book. I should have heeded the other reviews when they said that the performance was off putting. It isn't so much that her voice is monotone, but that it has a depressed downbeat. I could have gotten past her voice if the content was more inspiring. However, halfway into the book she is still describing writing as a tortured process of wringing the words out of her head and then having to rewrite it all again because (in her lovely words) the whole first draft is always going to be s--t. I know that writing can be hard, but I also know that it can be enjoyable. Where can I find a book about the joy of writing? Not here.
I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.
Trying to find a straight forward book on writing that is both insightful and entertaining requires tremendous patience. Fortunately, Anne Lamott does not taker herself too seriously as she walks the reader through her process, and reassures the insecure that nobody has it easy in the wide world of writing for publication! She tells it like she sees it, and I am more and more convinced that she is speaking with absolute truth. I felt great relief and satisfaction as this book allowed me to get out of my own way in life and in my own struggles as a writer. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an entertaining point of view on finding the strength to carryon in a creative lifestyle. If you think this book is going to give you a line by line illustration on how to craft a novel then you might be better off with "Writing for Dummies." No offense! She essentially takes you inside her head and helps create an expectation that first drafts always suck. The real trick is getting it on paper--the polishing will come.
I had been experiencing writer's block for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. My husband is shocked. A friend told me that Ann Lamott had some great writing books out there, so I checked this one out.
And after I listened, I sat down and wrote what my heart had been telling me to write, while my head (or Mom's ghost, something like that) was telling me that I could not write THAT. Thank you Ann Lamott. Thanks for your irreverence and humor. Thanks for your realness. Thanks for admitting as a writer that there are issues of faith to be dealt with. Thanks for making me laugh in a really difficult week. Thanks for helping me write again.
I've wanted to 'read' this book for a long time. During a period when I could really use some writing inspiration, I picked up the audio version.
The book itself is a little dry and not quite as translatable for non-fiction authors and I would have hoped. The best part of the book, in my opinion, is in the blurb where she explains the story of the title. I will grant that part of the issue is that a lot of the advice in this book, which may have been new when she wrote it, is not available in countless writing guides and blogs.
The real issue with this book is the narration. Narrated by the author and it is horrible. Were it not so short, I probably wouldn't have been able to make it through it. I have never felt so strongly about narration being so bad before. Seriously -- listen to a test clip before you buy.
This is one of my two favorite books of advice and encouragement for writers. The other is Natalie Goldberg's _Writing Down the Bones_. They, along with Strunk and White's _The Elements of Style_, which deals more with technical aspects of writing, have helped me understand what I,as a writer, want to accomplish. I highly recommend all three.
I'd listen to the unabridged recording of _Writing Down the Bones_ (read by Goldberg) before the abridged version of _Bird by Bird_.
Lamott's assurance that loneliness, envy, grief, and hopelessness are normal--even healthy--for writers at work helped me continue with my project when I felt like giving up.
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