Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bird by Bird

Reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. Yes, I should have read it before. I might have even nodded my head sagely a few times when people mentioned it, wrongly indicating that I'd done so , too. But I hadn't. And let me say for the record, I wish I had.

Lamott is funny, funny - and wise and honest. An entire chapter on professional jealousy - which we all should be honest enough to admit we feel except we never do because it makes us look grim and small and really really mean. Because honestly, who wants to be known as the person who resents that another colleague just got sparkly flying llamas while you, well, didn't? Lamott is honest enough to admit that sometimes we'd just like the llama receiver's head to explode... just a tiny bit to make us feel better.

She's also big on the need for honesty in writing and I'm with her there, too. Have had some interesting arguments with English colleagues on this very subject in fact. "If they can't think of anything to write about" I've heard a teacher say, "then I tell them to just make something up." And I stand there thinking, well, if it's fiction they're writing, that's really stellar advice. But if I'm teaching them, say, memoir or personal narrative, isn't that a bit, um, wrong? Isn't that how we got into that whole James Frey having to admit he just flat made crap up on Oprah mess?

It's at those moments that the writer part of me and the school employee part of me sort of collide and my head spins...

Til next time...

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