Saturday, April 28, 2012

On reading, writing, and life

I blame myself for the closing of all of the bookstores near my house.  I used to browse and not buy (or buy later that night on Amazon).  Now, I miss browsing.  I miss opening a random book, sitting down on a little stool, and reading about my own thoughts and feelings.

I found this book a couple of weeks ago in a small bookstore that I visit each week with my younger daughter while my older daughter is at ballet.  In my effort to keep this bookstore open, I let my daughter buy a used book every few weeks. This is the first book I have purchased for myself from this particular store.  I was intrigued by the title. 

She explains, "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...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.' "

I love that advice.  This is a book about the craft of writing, and although I don't consider myself a writer, page after page I saw myself in this book.  It reminded me of what C.S. Lewis said, "We read to know that we are not alone."   

Lately, I have been feeling a little vulnerable and that maybe I have put too much of myself out there on my blog.  Maybe it's time to stop.  But then I read this -

"Annie Dillard has said that day by day you have to give the work before you all the best stuff you have, not saving up for later projects. If you give freely, there will always be more...You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward."

She's right.  My work is only good when it comes from the deepest parts of me.  I have always just taken this blog "bird by bird".  And that's what I will continue to do.

* On a side note, I slept a little better last night (in spite of the crazy foam mattress).  We are getting another new mattress tonight.  I'm looking forward to spending next week thinking about something more interesting than mattresses.

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