We writers are not just writers; we’re readers, too. In fact, I am a read-aholic. (I can think of worse things). So, I read a book recently–okay, not soo recently, but I contacted the author after perusing her website, because writer/readers are nerdy that way.
Courtney Sullivan’s debut novel, “Commencement” (2010 Vintage Contemporaries) was out this past May. I picked it up several times at the bookstore for several reasons: it was May and there was lot of folks graduating and it sort of got me in the spirit, I liked the aqua blue cover, and it was about 4 girls in their first year of college. It seemed like the perfect escape and a little “research” for my own novel-in-progress. Finally, I purchased the book and devoured it in a matter of days. (I say finally, like it’s a bad thing. You see, I already had a mile-long reading list going).
Months went by after clicking “send” to an email I composed to Ms. Sullivan, I actually got a response. I wasn’t really expecting one, seeing how she is probably up to her eye balls in other things more important than responding to little ol’ me in Chicagoland. I had actually forgotten (embarrassing, I know) that I had emailed her and when her email showed up in my “junk” box, I thought, “Hummm…name sounds familiar…but who is this?!” Immediately, I remembered and felt like a bozo…and sort of honored.
The bottom line, she recommended a book to me, “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. It’s a sassy, dry, side-splitting account of the writing life as told by Ms. Lamott in a sort of how-to manner.
I totally related to almost everything she had to say about writing. I felt a little icky at the end, though…it was all sort of a reality check and made me feel like all of those rejected sperm that just didn’t make it in. Writing is hard work. It’s not as easy and glamorous as you think it may be. Published authors do not have “the life” as we all imagine they do. Unless of course they are a major household name…you know the ones.
However, the book did make me want to write more…and again. It has made me want to crack open a new page in a journal or a new document in Word. It has made me want to dust off the binder that houses all of the stuff I collected and notes I made for a memoir of my mother’s mental illness. It has made me want to tell others I am a writer, even though I have nothing published…yet.
So, thank you Courtney Sullivan for sharing this book with me. And for the rest of you who are interested in reading and writing, go out there and get a couple of books, “Commencement” and “Bird by Bird.” You’ll be glad you did.
Want to know more about “Bird by Bird” and Anne Lamott? Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Lamott
“Commencement” and Courtney Sullivan? Check out: http://jcourtneysullivan.com/