I didn’t get very far in the book. Anne has too many nuggets in the introduction to Bird by Bird, and it was hard to pick just one idea to reflect on. I scanned the first chapter too, and I don't have much hope of getting through the book soon. Help me set the pace, won't you? I respond well to a cracking whip.
I first read Bird by Bird about ten years ago. I totally missed--or dismissed--the part about "the small pox-infected-blankets of getting published" in the introduction. I believed anything I wrote would be published, and the publishing world would thank me with a bulging bank account and the adoration reserved for queens. Please note: I also read and believed a book about painless childbirth. This is my nature. I'm optimistic with a rick-rack of delusion decorating my hem.
But Anne knows her stuff. Writing is writing. It's a wonderful art form for expression and playfulness, although it's tougher to display on the living room wall than a watercolor painting. That doesn't make it frivolous, even if our words don't get published. Writing is a tool of refinement in Jesus' hand. Showing up each day is an act of devotion and trust. And our characters--those little connivers!--drag us into topics to explore God's character like no Bible study ever could. There is a fellowship of creativity with Jesus that leaves us breathless. On walks, in our cars, usually in the shower but seldom at the computer, he leads us through a story, pelts us with mind-twisting questions, and reveals himself in a gifted word, phrase, or idea.
"That thing you had to force yourself to do--the actual act of writing--turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward." (xxvi).
And so, like Anne, I encourage anyone compelled to write to do so.
What nuggets did you pan from the introduction? How has writing become its own reward for you? What do you tell starry-eyed wannabes about the writing life? If you knew you would never be published, would you continue to write?
Let's read "Getting Started" and "Short Assignments" for our time together on February 16th.