The Undiscovered Joy of Writing

I’ve been interested in writing for a while now. I’ve created a long “to be read” list of books about writing. Once of those is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. This book is a collection of short essays about the life of writing, including such topics as Getting Started, Shitty First Drafts, and Finding Your Voice. Some of them are less directly about writing itself, like Looking Around and Radio Station KFKD.

A main focus of the book is encouraging the reader to write, not with the goal of being published, but for the sheer joy of it and the unanticipated benefits is brings. Among these are a deep connection with your fellow human beings. She encourages the reader to write what they know starting with their childhood. She includes the idea of writing about the nasty or abusive lover. Just be sure to change enough details (including giving him a small penis) that he won’t sue for libel.

This book won’t take the place of a writing course or a more detailed book on the craft of writing. But it does a masterful job of sharing the ups and downs of a writers life, encouraging the reader to write despite the fact that their chances at publication, followed by fame and fortune, are minuscule at best. She teaches that the writing life is deeper and more satisfying than that.

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