Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A Kick in the Arse

Making the decision to move from the coast to Portland was not easy. When choosing which road to take, I often wind up on the uncharted, needing four wheel drive, stuck in the muck path. Having easy access to my sandy, salty beach sanctuary sure seemed like reason enough to stay. There was this little dilemma however called lack of work...

Which followed me to the city.

No work, money, or beach within easy reach and the first of the month right around the corner. I needed a substitute sanctuary! The answer? Powell’s City of Books. Depending on ones color choice a person can escape into the vast collection of the written word and leave their everyday woes behind. It was on one of these sojourns when I found a recommended book for an aspiring yet unmotivated writer such as myself. I was doubtful to its usefulness as there are times in ones life when encouraging words, written or spoken, do not reach a despondent soul. What I needed was a kick in the arse, which I found within Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

I was hooked after reading the book jacket.

Anne Lamott not only shared vast amounts of wisdom on the nuts and bolts of writing. She understands the difficulty of actually getting down to it. Words and the need to express oneself may be swirling around inside of a person, however putting pen to paper can be tough. Especially if one has tuned in to what she refers to as radio station KFKD. Anne warns, “if you are not careful, station KFKD will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo.” Playing “songs of self-loathing, the lists of all the things one doesn’t do well, of all the mistakes one has made today and over an entire lifetime, the doubt, the assertion that everything that one touches turns to shit...”

I needed that reminder.

It was time to turn that station off or at the very least find a different station and get on with one of the reasons for the move to the city. I wanted to write. I had ‘blah blahed’ for too many years about the desire to make a commitment to my writing, to mySELF, to see what Laura was all about. Life had been my excuse. Too much work, not enough time, bills need to be paid...but where and HOW to begin??

Bird by bird.

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. (It) was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’” This encouraging story by Anne is what grabbed my attention, however, her wit and insight throughout the book is what held it.

Thank you Anne Lamott for sharing, I think your father had good advice.

*a note from miss mooty...I wrote this essay to enter a contest at a bookstore to win free books! The question asked was "What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years?"

No comments: