Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I fell in love again today ...

That's the second time this week.

The first time happened on MySpace (a great place for falling in love). I encountered a poet called Lowell – also, and primarily, a painter but a wonderful writer too, and brilliant at "taking off" other voices. Well, I'm a sucker for anyone who makes me laugh, and when they're clever and talented too...! I adore irreverence, absurdity, quirkiness; and, as everyone knows, I'm CRAZY about good poetry. So Lowell qualifies on all counts.

As if that wasn't delicious enough, this morning I opened a book I recently borrowed from the library and promptly fell in love with its author. It's bird by bird, by Anne Lamott. The subtitle is,
Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

She's engaging, down-to-earth, writes like a dream, and speaks for me – both as writer and teacher of creative writing. And she's very funny! I break into giggles frequently. This morning, reading her in bed, I kept interrupting my husband's reading to share the best snippets – even though I'd already said to him, 'You've just gotta read this too!' I couldn't help myself. Here's one.

'But you can't
teach writing, people tell me. And I say, "Who the hell are you, God's dean of admissions?" '

Dunno about you, but that just cracked me up. Maybe because I'd like to have had that riposte on my tongue a few times. Instead I tell people, 'You can't teach art but you can teach craft.' True, but not as funny.

And she has wonderful stories about her father, who was also a writer. She herself had a good teacher.

' "Do it every day for a while," my father kept saying. "Do it as you would do scales on the piano. Do it by prearrangement with yourself. Do it as a debt of honor. And make a commitment to finish things." '

When he was dying of a brain tumour,

'My father told me to pay attention and to take notes. "You tell your version," he said, "and I am going to tell mine." '

Ain't that a writer?

And that's only the introduction!

Oh, it's already a treasure! A book to rival my all-time favourite beloved, Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones.

The bit I like best is that, when asked why she writes, she says both, 'Because I want to' and 'Because I'm good at it'. I can't think of better reasons!

Later: Oh no, here's an even better bit:

'For me and the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.'

Gotta love this woman.


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