Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bird by bird

Today, I want to say thanks to Lisa. She's been a great friend and editor for several years. While she probably won't be my editor after this Friday, I'm confident that the friendship will continue. Lisa took me under her wing at the newspaper and taught me, among many other things, AP style and how to find my voice.

When I first started writing for her, I still had a host of other duties I had to perform for another boss. During some of those early days, I wasn't sure how I would get everything done on time. Because Lisa and I are friends, I was able to go to her and tell her my concerns. She sent me the following passage from Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird":
"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, 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 brother's shoulder, and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."
I printed it out and tacked it to my cubicle wall. I looked to it often when something felt overly daunting. Even now --with a work schedule that isn't so crazy --when life seems to put a huge obstacle in my path, I look to this passage, and it helps me through. And it reminds me that I have a friend I can turn to, whether I'm looking for advice on the correct usage of effect or affect or I just need a word of encouragement.

4 comments:

Heather said...

I love that passage, too, and I also got it from Lisa. Every time I start to feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I need to do, I think, "It's ok, I just need to take it bird by bird," and then I feel better.

I guess we both owe Lisa a thank you. :)

Pammeey said...

Without a doubt.

I hope she reads this.

Lisa said...

I'm glad it made a difference to both of you!! Thanks for your kind words, Pam. And yes, I always read your posts ... I'm just one of those lurkers who don't comment often. :o)

Kate said...

Today especially, I'm feeling the "bird by bird" analogy, outside of writing and applied to life in general.