Upon Reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott: Help Along the Way – Index Cards & Calling Around

Part Three! I’m moving forward, baby!

Index Cards

“One of the things that happens when you give yourself permission to start writing is that you start thinking like a writer. You start seeing everything as material.” ~p. 136

And one of the easiest way to do this, is using index cards. Or any kinds of medium that you’re comfortable with. Since now is the era where people rely more on their smart phones instead of themselves, you might wanna consider an iPhone or Blackberry as well.

The thing is, (and as annoying as it is) we never know when Mr. Inspiration or Intuition would show up, and we could never tell. I was completely lost and anxious in starting to write my story, until suddenly, the idea ran into my head, just like a rain pouring down so heavily that I thought I really shouldn’t waste a minute and write them down anyway.

Or another day when I was about to sleep (again), then suddenly this jumbled words were popping out in my head, and, since it was late and I did not have any paper or pencil with me at that time, I grabbed my mom’s Blackberry and typed them down until the next day, I moved it to my blog here.

Another day, I was about to sleep (again) when I suddenly feel like writing a story. I hadn’t had the slightest idea about what to write, but I know that I just wanna write. So I sit on my bed, and starred blankly at the wall in front of me, then thinking how am I gonna write this down because I certainly didn’t wanna turn on my iBook again after I just shut it down. Then I remembered that I just bought this notebook from the bookstore. So I grabbed the notebook and a pen, and write. And write. And write.

Of course, as I write the story, it turned out to be something unusual and unexpected, like I was expecting a Jay Gatsby story, and it turned out to be an Alibrandi story (just an illustration, btw, not that I actually wrote something about, or related to, Alibrandi or Jay Gatsby), but I didn’t scrapped it. I saved it later in my iBook, just in case I might need it later.

“They’re often so rich, these unbidden thoughts, and so clear that they feel indelible. But I say write them all down anyway.” ~p. 136

Of course, the only perfect timing to be able to write the thought is when you are actually feeling the moment, the taste, just like the time when the Inspiration and Intuition came to you. Whenever I thought that I could just save it in my head and write them down later, of course, when I’m finally facing my iBook, the moment’s gone. And I don’t feel like writing it again because the moment’s just gone, and I don’t think whatever I write would be as meaningful as when I feel the moment just then.

So I scrapped the ideas.

Pathetic, right?

This is why we always need to bring a notebook, or index cards, or at least a smart phone with us everywhere.

I’m a very clumsy person, who could accidentally left my umbrella or any other things that I have whenever I visit a cafe, or a diner, or such, especially when the stuffs are less important than my cell phone. Last weekend, I just left my umbrella accidentally in a coffeeshop. I came back two days later to see if they still had my umbrella, and it was lost forever.

But I certainly never forget my cell phone.

So, okay. Maybe not an index cards, but a cell phone would do just fine for me.

Calling Around

“There are an enormous number of people out there with invaluable information to share with you, and all you have to do is pick up the phone.” ~p. 145

“The truth is that there are simply going to be times when you can’t go forward in your work until you find out something about the place you grew up, when it was still a railroad town, or what the early stages of shingles are like, or what your character would actually experience the first week of beauty school. So figure out who would have this information and give that person a call.” ~p. 147

In other words: Research.

Wait, are telling me to write a thesis? Because all these time I thought that being a writer is that you simply sit and type. And type. And type.


I never write anything about being in the first week of beauty school, though.

But I once wrote a story about guys exchanging emails about girls that they like, and I remember I was asking any guy friend that I have, including my cousin, about what guys usually talked about in their emails, and whether they would actually talk about girls at all if they ever exchange emails. I’m warning you, though, this could be cultural, because I just found out that guys don’t behave the same in every culture.

My cousin told me that they sometimes talk about girls to each other, but it’s not actually a heart-to-heart session. They would merely talk about the girls’ appearance (of course they would talk about the pretty ones) and that’s it. But some other would tell me that they would never talk about girls at all with other guys. They would prefer talk to a girl best friend, and this would usually refer to something more emotional and sentimental. Sometimes they would ask how a girl would behave and what he is supposed to do when a girl behave like this or that.

So I wrote them down.

Not easy, though. And definitely not my favorite part of writing.

An Indonesian author, Andrea Hirata, gained a success through his tetralogy The Rainbow Troops, and finally became a full-time author.

Dude, what the hell are you doing, becoming a full-time author?


I’m planning to actually read the Indonesian version of The Rainbow Troops (Laskar Pelangi)–meaning I haven’t actually read the book–but from what I heard from my friends, he’s a damn fine writer.

I remember reading about how Elizabeth Gilbert disguised as a guy, and behave like a guy, hanging out with guys and such, only to write an article about guys.

I think I’m gonna make a damn petite guy if I ever disguised as one. I’m only 5’1″, for God’s sakes!

I was halfway reading The Buru Quartet by Pramoedya Ananta Toer before I finally realized that he hadn’t even born during the early 1900s, where he started his story in Bumi Manusia (Earth of All Mankind). He couldn’t possibly know about the situation during the early 1

900, so he must’ve done some research, if not plenty.

Which is why I’m currently googling some stuff related to Alzheimer’s Disease.

And which is why I recently tracing down a once-Freshly-Pressed-post that I’ve read long time ago about Alzheimer’s Disease. Heartbreaking, and definitely tearjerker, but definitely worth-reading (click here to read).

Oh, I’m open to inputs btw, if you had any information about Alzheimer’s Disease.

Research. Research. Research.


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