I have been struggling with my writing lately, not knowing how to organize my thoughts or how to pull together my mess of stories and thoughts into something coherent and readable. When I don't write, I miss it. But sometimes when I finally sit down to write, I hardly know where to begin. I love composing a new post. I love knowing that people read it. I love having a collection of writings, a testimony to the life I live. I am wondering, yet, how it will all come together - if it will come together. I am encouraged by the work of creative nonficition writers like Molly Wizenburg, Donald Miller and Anne Lamott who somehow manage to make their lives, their stories, into a beautifully cohesive assemblage that so delightfully encapsulates who they are as a writer and a person. That's what I'm going for.
I am encouraged by Molly Wizenburg's recent blog post on writing and How we do what we do. I too love Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, her book of instructions on writing and life. It has been an invaluable tool in my journey as an artist and writer. I think what I love most about that book is the title. She tells the story of her 10-year old brother sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by books, brooding over a book report on birds. Their father so tenderly advises him, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."
Right. Bird by bird. I had forgotten.
The enormity of my task, my dream, had gotten the better of me. The subtitle of Anne Lamott's book is Some Instructions on Writing and Life. They go together those two, writing and life. A writer's work will forever be influenced by her life. And consequently, the life of a writer will swirl around the unending task of writing. Anne Lamott talks about carrying index cards around wherever she goes so that if a thought, a verse, or an idea comes to mind she can write it down for later. She tells a story of a particularly hellish time in her writing life when she goes to see her pastor for a bit of guidance.
"We talked for a while... I said that I was all over the place, up and down, scattered, high, withdrawing, lost, and in the midst of it all trying to find some elusive sense of serenity. 'The world can't give that serenity,' he said. 'The world can't give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts.'
'I hate that,' I said.
'I know. But the good news is that by the same token, the world can't take it away.' "
I need to remember that. I implore you to do the same. Discover what it is that you love and do that. And don't ever let it go. Seek all the peace and serenity your soul has to offer. And remember to take it bird by bird.