Upon Reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott: Publication–and Other Reasons to Write – Giving

“You are going to have to give and give, or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward.” ~p. 203

In another words: make it personal.

“Your work as a writer, when you are giving everything you have to your characters and to your readers, will periodically make you feel like the single parent of a three-year-old, who is, by turns, wonderful, willful, terrible, crazed, and adoring.” ~p. 203

Aha!

My mom always freaked out every time I told her that I would probably not getting married, or even have kids in the future. Well, I’m not saying that I don’t want to, I was simply telling her that it’s a possibility, but apparently, even a possibility freaked her out already. Now I might have just the perfect answer for her. (Writing down the quotation above.)

 The quotation above is probably the reason why it always heart-breaking for writers to get their writings rejected or returned. Because we always make it personal. We always try to put our best effort into it, and these editors or supervisors simply read and then call our best effort as rubbish. Really, who wouldn’t want to electrocute them? If our writings are just like our own kids, then those editors are actually telling us how ugly our kids are.

Fine, I don’t have kids, but you get the idea, right?

“Your child and your work hold you hostage, suck you dry, ruin your sleep, mess with your head, treat you like dirt, and then you discover they’ve given you that gold nugget you were looking for all along.” ~p. 204

Only sometimes, we don’t always get the gold nugget like, stat.

Yet we, as writers, stick to our child, our writings.

Lamott puts it that writing is like giving back. You know the times when we were so much in awe with other senior writers’ books? Writing our book is just like thanking them by writing back to them.

“So write a book back to V. S. Naipaul or Margaret Artwood or Wendell Berry or whoever it is who most made you want to write, whose work you most love to read.” ~p. 204

Enid  Blyton came to my mind. Her works are probably the very first reason why I wanted to write. Of course Michel Faber and Jostein Gaarder also came to my mind right away.

Oh, no. Low self-esteem attack. How am I ever gonna write back to those sophisticated genius people? Compared to their writings, aren’t my writings gonna look like nothing but crap?

“Writing takes a combination of sophistication and innocence; it takes conscience, our belief that something is beautiful because it’s right.” ~p. 205

Oh well, it wouldn’t hurt to try, isn’t it? Writing is, after all, a passion.

“What your giving can do is to help your readers be braver, be better than they are, be open to the world again.” ~p. 206

(sigh)

Okay. Breathe.

Give back. The innocence. Think about Michel Faber. And Jostein Gaarder. Jhumpa Lahiri. Vladimir Nabokov. And my readers. My friends. My family.

I can do this.

What about you? Who do you want to write back for? Who’s your favorite writers? Do you also struggle with the same problem when you write? Just like dealing with a three-year-old kid?

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Laksmi

An MA student at Waseda University, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyo, Japan. An avid reader. A language geek as well. And a book hoarder.

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