One bird by bird at at time

Hoo boy I’m rusty at this. I’ve gotten uncomfortably comfortable at just posting tiny snippets on social media outlets (Instagram pic + Emoji caption, hayyyyyy) and now that I’m faced with

a
l
l

t
h
i
s

b
l
a
n
k

s
p
a
c
e

… well, it’s a little intimidating.

That’s actually really why I blogged every day before. Just gotta keep your fingers moving until something comes out that makes sense. Threading together thoughts into a cohesive whole—does anyone ever really feel like someone who can do that reliably? When do writers finally feel like they can call themselves a writer? I still have trouble with it, even though I’ve been paid for several years now to do exactly that. (It’s not dissimilar to my position re: adulthood. I’ll let you know when I start to feel like a legit one of those.)

Yesterday I was at a coffee shop, as I am wont to be these days, and inexplicably, someone was conducting a job interview at my table. Like, I couldn’t have been more than five inches away from the interviewee. The interview went on forevvvvvver, to the point where I felt like I should jump in, maybe contribute some questions, or at least volunteer as a character reference. (“Smells really nice, but has a tendency to talk way too loudly.”)

When the interview was finally in the wrapping-up phase, the interviewer asked nice-smelling, loud-talker lady what her personal motto was. (Raise your hand if you hate interview questions like that. Yes, I see all your hands raised. That’s what I thought.) Anyway, she went on to explain how Anne Lamott had this amazing book that had always spoken to her, and in it Lamott tells a story about her brother trying to complete a project about birds for school. He got frustrated, like elementary school kids learning about Doing Actual Work do, and his dad helps motivate him by saying “One bird at a time.”

Here is what happened in my head when she said that: IT’S BIRD BY BIRD, BUDDY. BIRD BY BIRRRRRRRRRD! NOT ONE BIRD AT A TIME SOMEONE STOP HER OH GOD ASKLKJF:EOIFJE:OIF:ELKF

Because no for real.

Later, though, after I had gotten over myself, I thought about how that was actually kind of an apt lesson for me as I was struggling over every sentence of yesterday’s post right beside her. I am in desperate need of putting butt in chair and going bird by bird right now, but I worry so much about Getting it Right that I’m left paralyzed and wordless. I end up with no birds.

So perfumed job candidate lady got the quote wrong, who cares. (Although, it’s the TITLE OF THE BOOK, you guys! Ok no really I’m done with the judgment.) She answered the question full steam ahead, and extrapolated from that (incorrect) quote an eloquent analogy for her life and how it would apply well to the position she was interviewing for. After hearing that (and 1.5 hours of the rest of her answers), you know what? I’d hire her.

Anyway, like I said. I’m out of practice at this, so I don’t have a nice bow to wrap it all up in. But look, here’s today’s bird*! Next week I’ll have a few more.

*No, not that kind.

1 comment

1 Darth { 05.04.14 at 6:16 pm }

A 13 minute talk on writing by Brian Sanderson (a fantasy writer who finished the Wheel of Time series after Jordan’s death). Sanderson talks about writers fall into categories of “Gardeners” or “Architects” and refers to writers like Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, and others. It’s interesting. I know you are not writing fantasy novels, but you might enjoy hearing this. See
the webpage at

Leave a Comment