When I travel, I often take a book on writing to dip in and out of — not a craft book, but something more personal and inspirational. For our trip to Switzerland and Italy, I decided to reread Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. It came out in 1994 and my guess is I read it not long after, when I just beginning to write fiction. It was eye-opening to see how much of her advice has become articles of faith to me — did I first glean them from her, or do her suggestions resonate with me now because I’ve reached the same conclusions? Doesn’t matter. If you haven’t read it, or not in ages, I recommend it. It’s like having a smart, smart-mouthed, supportive older sister telling you what she knows, exactly when you need to hear it. I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite quotes over the next few weeks. For now, I want to say what strikes me the most — and this could be a reflection of my own stage and state of mind — is the importance of doing things that give you confidence, no matter what stage you’re at. It could be getting feedback on a WIP or a note from a reader, or simply knowing that you wrote a true sentence or signed up for a class or filled a page in your notebook with memories that you trust will feed the work.
More next week.
Friends, if you’re in the Flathead Valley, join me Tues, Oct 11, from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center (in the Village, next to the library), for the launch of BLIND FAITH (written as Alicia Beckman) and a talk on the creative process.