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Bird by Bird

Started by droqen, July 12, 2022, 11:56:54 AM

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Regarding Anne Lamott's
"Bird by Bird"

Some Instructions on Writing and Life


QuoteShort Assignments

[..]Often when you sit down to write, what you have in mind is an autobiographical novel about your childhood, or a play about the immigrant experience, or a history of --oh, say--say women. But this is like trying to scale a glacier. [The way I deal with this is that I panic and panic and panic because of the weighty impossibility of the task... until] I finally notice the one-inch picture frame that I put on my desk to remind me of short assignments. // It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame.

[..] E. L. Doctorow once said that "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.


QuoteHere is one sentence by Gary Snyder:

Ripples on the surface of water--
were silver salmon passing under--different
from the ripples caused by breezes

Those words, less than twenty of them, makes ripples clear and bright, distinct again.

QuoteTo be engrossed by something outside ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass--seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colorectal theology, offering hope to no one.


QuoteIf you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don't ever bother finishing, that you lose interest or faith in them along the way, it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately. [...The core, ethical concepts which you most passionately believe to be true or right] probably feel like givens, like no one ever had to make up, that have been true through all cultures and for all time. [...] the truth doesn't come out in bumper stickers. [...] Your whole piece is the truth, not just one shining epigrammatic moment in it.


if you write the best rhyme you'll ever write but it doesn't fit in with the work's meaning or larger theme, it's your responsibility as the artist to cut it. put it down. "kill," as they say, "your darlings."

game mechanics are mere devices -- though there is an artistry and a craft to their creation, they are not the emotional or creative core. look deeper. as an artist, those 'artist statements' and thematic overtones that might have once felt like justification to use devices in the first place... have always, actually, been the whole point. it's not there to lend context to cool devices; the devices serve the expression.

if not in service of some expression of a heartfelt truth, a device does not belong. if it was capable of standing alone, you would be happy to take it out and let it do just that. but if you let it stay it is a tumour, and its cancerous influence will steal coherency and energy from the entire work.

even your most darling devices are not worth it.


QuoteI've been thinking about my values lately [..] I'm obsessed with this quote I took from Bird by Bird: "If you find that....."

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Quote from: p127Toni Morrison said, "The function of freedom is to free someone else," and if you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story. Risk freeing someone else. Not everyone will be glad that you did.


Risk freeing someone else.