Have you ever fallen madly in love - with a book?
I realize I have just effectively narrowed down my audience to the one or two of you who don't think I'm in urgent need of psychological treatment. That's OK, those that remain (fellow bibliophiles) know of what I speak.
I've met my share of books over the years. Some, despite their simplicity, have kept me entertained for days, largely because they were so fun and good-looking. They weren't very smart, but they fed me grapes and fanned me, like well-trained Cabana boys.
Others have teased me at first, then left me high and dry, wanting more, unsatisfied. They seemed to have so much promise. I gave them a chance, but sometimes I had to turn away prematurely. I don't feel obligated to finish that type when they don't deliver their end of the bargain.
I've found others to be intimidating, even when more experienced friends assured me I should dive right in. To be honest, sometimes I judged them, unjustly, by their covers. If, for instance, there was lots of small print, or if the author's name appeared to be Russian, I might not even take a sample. I'm cautious when sampling new flavors.
But every so often something scrumptious is delivered to me, and I devour it and wish I could read it every day for the rest of my life.
OK, so maybe that's a bit much. But I am about to finish a book that was just so real, and refreshing, and funny, that I think I want to marry it.
I've already mentioned it here, a few posts back: it's Anne Lamott's classic book for writers, Bird by Bird. So now I've really done it. I've eliminated even more of my audience. It's just you and me now, my fellow-writer-blog-reader pal. (I know everyone else is disappointed, thinking they were going to discover a hot new fiction title or at least a helpful weight loss manual.)
Actually, the subtitle is "some instructions on writing and life," so those who are interested in life, not just writing, might find some gems in these pages as well.
I always regret not having a highlighter in hand when I read (I was taught not to deface books, and I just can't get used to writing in them; it feels like savagery.)
So I'm left with my (poor) memory to find the passages that spoke to me. Oh dear. Let's see...
This is hard, harder than I thought it'd be. That's because this book is just so filled iwth inspiration.
"My deepest belief is that to live as if we're dying can set us free."
"...Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it."
And this: "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come."
I will finish the book tonight. I've been saving the last chapter, like a dark chocolate truffle in a box of chocolates. I plan to savor it, enjoying every last morsel.
I know this book has been around for years, and the serious writers have already read it. I'm slow, I know. Slower than me? That's OK. Read this book. Ignore the vulgarity if that sort of thing bothers you; forget the fact that you probably wouldn't like Lamott very much if you met her at a church function or the home of your liberal neighbor.
If you are a writer, or want to be, get this book.
What are you waiting for?