Living Bird by Bird

March 11, 2010

By C. J. Stegall-Evans

I am working on several writing projects and am finding it impossible to just sit down and finish one. I have made a little head way on each project but nothing substantial. There are days when I sit at the computer going through projects trying to figure out which one to work on. When I begin to feel I will never finish anything I remember the following passage from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird:  


          When my older brother was ten years old he was trying to get a report on

          birds written that he’d had three months to write, which 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 brothers shoulder,

          and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.

                                                                             ( Lamott, 1994 p. 19)


This passage comes to me often in life. It reminds me to take a step back and evaluate the circumstances. This is one of my favorite stories because we should all take life and writing bird by bird.  Life and writing have a lot in common because writing is an expression of life.

Life is to writing as music is to dance. Writing is an interpretation of life just like dance is an illumination of music. Writing is a celebration of life both the good and bad sides. Although, I find it quite difficult to celebrate when I am looking at a blinking cursor.

Today when I look at my projects I am grateful to have so much work and so many ideas. Whenever I get new ideas I simply file it away in my idea book knowing I can take each project bird by bird.   





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