One thing I am loving about my Saturday mornings with Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is that I can relate to her honesty. As a writer I know what it is to struggle with rejection, confidence, and the ability to let things go. As Lamott describes the writing process I find myself thinking that she nailed it! Her words so beautifully describe how I feel at times and the process I’m currently struggling with to get someone to look at my work. I find hope in her anecdotes. Just when I feel like throwing in the towel she reminds me that the purpose for writing isn’t to be rich and famous (because that rarely happens), but rather to tell the story that the world needs to hear. With that perspective I can’t be angry or depressed. Rather that perspective gives me the fervor to continue to work and not give up. I may never be a published author, but I hope to never be able to say I didn’t try with everything with all my might to make that dream happen.
It happens all the time.
We think we know someone. We are able to describe them in detail from our first interaction. Their personality is reminiscent of some other being with which we have interacted before. Because they remind us of someone we think we know them. But time will tell us a different story. That person we thought we knew is actually very different from the original picture we had of them. They do something out of character and remind us that we don’t even really know them.
Writing is a bit like this. We think we know our characters. Unintentionally we have crafted them after a stereotype or a person we’ve met before. Scene after scene we detail their reactions to the world around them only to find out about halfway through the book that the protagonist isn’t quite the person we thought that they were. When we tear down the walls around our characters and give them liberty to live we will find that they take on a life of their own unlike anything we could have dreamed up or drawn out on our own. It’s okay to let them be themselves and to break the mold.
In this chapter Lamott gives her inspiring account of not giving up on a manuscript. After several rejections from her editor Lamott was feeling depressed and upset, however, walking away from the text and picking it back up a few months later proved to be beneficial for her and eventually landed that book a deal.
I loved this chapter because it is exactly where I am in the process of my first book. It is mostly finished, but I know there are some things that still need work. I’ve given myself a little room to breathe and hope to return to it soon with fresh eyes and perspective. Sometimes we have to do that in writing. We have to step back and let the story simmer. Then, when we return the changes are clear and obvious. Rejection isn’t the end of the road, it is the beginning to fixing what is broken.
The Ameri Brit Mom