Swim against the current

Review of the book Anne Lamotte "Bird after bird", publishing house "MIF", 2014

Upon learning of the suicide of Robin Williams, I thought: "And why it doesn’t surprise me at all ..." The funniest person in the world, the sparkling comedian died of depression. Incredible? No, rather, too much like the truth of life, which is always more incredible than fiction. The more monstrous the lie, the easier it is to believe in it, but the more something seems to be true, the less it is believed. This is at first glance. But look better - and you will see, for example, the big sad eyes of the satirist Zoshchenko, and behind him - the whole Club of comedians, sparkling in public and suffering from neuroses behind the closed door of his own apartment.

For some reason, the first thing I did, recognizing Williams in death, was the revised film, The Society of Dead Poets. At the same time, I read notes about Ann Lamotte's writing “Bird after bird” - a writer's book about himself, about creativity and life in general, about why not get rid of writing, if you are really amazed by it, and how to live with it. So it happened - life impressions most of all influence our ideas, - that it occurred to me that both the film and the book are about the same thing, about people who are somehow not reassured, towards something aspiring, swimming against flow. About poets in the shower. For poets in the shower.

If you are one of these, then almost every line in this book will seem familiar to you. With something you want to argue, but not hoarse, and friendly philosophizing, imagining the author. Until hoarseness with the poets do not argue, because they are always right. Even when not right.

An easy baggage of children's insults, neuroses, strange ideas, complexes and insights En Lamotte includes in his book as a vital material to illustrate how the writing mechanism works in general. She talks about everything sincerely, with humor and self-irony, causing sympathy and a desire to finish reading her opus to the end. If you are swimming against the current, you will be interested in this book. If only because it was written by a talented and honest person.

about the author

Anne Lamotte was born in San Francisco in 1954. She studied at Goucher College (Maryland), then returned to California to write books. In 1980, her first novel, Laughter Through Tears, followed by the novels Rosie (1983), Joe Jones (1985) and All New People (1989). Autobiographical essays "Instructions for Use" were published in 1993, the novel "Twisted Heart" - in 1997. In 2005, her books "The Gracious Way" and "Plan B: New Thoughts about Faith" were published. Ann Lamotte - Guggenheim Foundation Fellow; led a book review column in Mademoiselle magazine and a restaurant column in California magazine. She taught literary mastery at the University of California Davis and other state literary centers. He lives in the city of San Rafael (California) with his son Sam.

It makes no sense to write a detailed summary of this book, it will not convey the fullness of ideas, and the retelling will distort and destroy the author’s style and thoughts. To give a more complete picture of this book, I will simply cite excerpts that personally touched me.

Underlined pencil

“Those who are very different from others are difficult in the United States; it’s not for nothing that Paul Krassner called our country“ the United States of Assimilation. ”If you are too skinny, too tall, too black, too short, too strange, too curly, too poor or too short-sighted - tear to pieces. "

“I suspect that as a child he (Ann Lamotte - about his father) was very different from his peers. Probably, he had serious conversations with adults. Perhaps, like me, I soon realized that I would often be alone and accepted it. I think people such a warehouse usually become writers - or hardened criminals. "

"It was a few years. I desperately wanted to publish. Recently, one preacher said to me that hope is an eternal cycle of patience. I’ll add: writing is a craft too. Hope is born from darkness. Stubborn hope that if you go out to people and become honest do your own thing, in the end it is dawn. We must wait, observe, work — and not give up. "

“Nevertheless, I tell everyone who feels the need to write: write. But I always warn you that the book’s release is not the crown of everything and not the answer to all questions. Publication is not as important as many people think. It’s important to write. Creativity can give , it’s so much to open, to teach so much. And what you painfully coerce yourself to - sit down and write - turns out to be the best. It's about how to think that the tea ceremony is needed for tea and a charge of cheerfulness. And it is needed by itself, for Ceremonies. And creativity is needed by the writer in five. "

"Useful tip number one: write better little by little, in small portions."

"Edgar Doctorow once said:" Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You see only that the headlights snatch from the darkness; and yet you can go all the way. ”You don’t need to see your final goal, don’t see your destination, and all that you’re driving along the road. It’s enough to see a few meters ahead. This is perhaps one of the best tips about writing, I've heard. And about life in general. "

“Thirty years ago, my elder brother — then he was ten — struggled with the school task that he had to pass the next day. They were told to describe our local birds; initially they were given three months, but my brother did not have time. And here he is almost crying, he sat at the kitchen table at our home in Bolinas, full of albums, pencils and unread books about birds. The amount of work paralyzed him. Then the father came, sat down next to him, hugged and said: “Bird after bird, friend. Describe bird by bird. "I love to tell this story, because after it, my students usually feel a sense of complete hopelessness."

"Another great news: do not be afraid of the disgusting first sketches. All good writers have them. It is sketches that make it possible to write a good draft, and then an excellent working version."

"I know several excellent writers, beloved, popular; they earn good money and are very talented. None of them get to work every morning full of vigor and enthusiasm. Nobody gives a light, sparkling text the first time."

“When a mediocre character — moderately good, moderately selfish — opens up a source of courage and selflessness, we experience a moment of truth, a welcome revelation. Then we become related to the heroes. It is these books that we remember all our life, slip to friends, reread again and again".

"Yes, this world is cold and homeless, like a lunar landscape. But you can laugh at it."

"Write about what is truly important for you. Love, death, passion, the desire to survive are important for all of us. Belief in God and the salvation of nature are also of interest to many. Perhaps the most important thing in the world is diet and intestinal microflora - let's say , duodenum. This is fine, but you don’t need to write about it. Most readers will secretly think that you are trying to give a high meaning to your own neurosis. Millions already do this in churches and at new-age festivals. "

“Of all the rubbish that goes on the radio on“ Sucks, ”the hardest thing is to drown out the voice of envy. It beats, without a miss, on self-esteem and faith in oneself — usually already fragile. But in writing life one cannot get away from it: brilliant and overwhelming success for some reason often comes to angry, mediocre, unworthy individuals (that is, not to you). "

"I myself once was a champion of envy. In my experience, it helps a little here. First, it becomes easier with age. Secondly, it’s better not to keep everything in yourself, but to speak out and let off steam. Thirdly, you can to use their own agony as a material for creativity. And it’s quite wonderful if there is a person who can help to see the funny side in them. Whoever laughs at himself has practically recovered. "

"Someone sent the disease. Someone - unbearable envy. One way or another, you have to live with it. The affected body, the wounded soul equally require affection and care."

"I really want to think that Henry James said his famous" writer is the one from whom nothing escapes "at the moment when he was looking for glasses, and they were just sitting on his forehead."

"... I have familiar writers who do not take notes. From their point of view, life should not be outlined, like a professor at a lecture, but just listen carefully."

"You may have a wonderful memory and three hours later you can reproduce everything that occurred to you during a walk in the hills or in the queue to the dentist. Or maybe not. If it is convenient for you, if it helps, take notes. This is not cheating on the exam and does not say anything bad about your abilities. If your brain cannot hold a large amount of information, it’s just absent-mindedness. "

"On the table I have cards with what I saw, heard and noticed last week, but there are also records two years ago. If you dig around well, you can even find a note that I made six or seven years ago when I walked along the salt lake from Sausalito to Mill Valley. Bicyclists were passing by me every now and then, but I didn’t pay much attention to them. Suddenly a woman swept past me and I smelled the lemon scent of her perfume. Smell — just like Proust — brought me twenty-five years. back ".

“The writer spends a lot of time alone, and it affects the state of mind. When you work in a small confined space, the brain begins to expand and shrink like the scenery in Doctor Caligari. Sometimes symptoms of overt schizophrenia appear: for example, look at the word“ schizophrenia ” so long that you don't understand whether it is written correctly. You look for it in the dictionary; you cannot find it; you begin to suspect that you yourself invented it. "

“Seriously, it is necessary to know for work, say, what your hometown looked like when it was a major railway junction. Or what are the stages of herpes development. Or what does a woman feel when she starts going to a fitness school. Find out who can give you need reliable information and contact him. It’s best to find a consultant with a sense of humor and pedagogical ability (to appropriate his thoughts and findings). "

"Our craft first of all consists in sitting down and writing every day, and also making a habit of absorbing everything that comes into view, seeing life as raw material, a grain for millstones. It is a very soothing habit — like nail biting. Instead to fear life, you pull away, observe and rethink creatively. "

"But remember: sometimes you will have the feeling that you have stuck your head in the mouth of a lion. At creative workshops and master classes, the atmosphere is usually more benevolent than at" adult "symposia. But it still happens that there are fellow writers at the table, who consider it their moral and aesthetic duty to smash someone else's text into fluff and dust. At best, they will tell you that the whole story needs to be translated into the past tense (and if it is already in the past, then to the present) or rewritten from the first person (and and so from the first - then remake from the third). worst case, you will hear that you have no talent drops and you'd better never did not write their own names on the receipts. "

"What you call true is just your personal opinion."

"Publication will not change your life and will not solve all problems at once. From the fact that you start publishing, you will not become more beautiful or stronger in spirit. It is quite likely that you will not even become richer. The path to publication is long and thorny, and joy passes quickly ".

“Tony Morrison said:“ Freedom is needed in order to free others. ”If you managed to break out of slavery, break the chains that chained you to a person or lifestyle, tell us about it.”

"Annie Dillard says: you need to let the best of what you have, without leaving tomorrow. The more you give, the more you get. A very bold concept and so alien to human nature - at least mine - that I’m always looking for where the trick is. But the fact is a fact: only when generously and without thinking you throw out all the accumulated material day after day you begin to feel like a Greek Zorba at the keyboard, a light and cheerful dancer. On other days I remind myself of a rodent that drags all mink and very afraid that pr Ipasov is not enough for the winter. Arthritis inflates both real fingers and those imaginary hands with which a creature in the subconscious closet folds a mosaic of accumulated rags, debris and parts. You need to give all the time, and give, and give yourself to the world. Otherwise there is no point in writing " .

"If truth lives in your soul, there will always be a person to whom it is interesting. Let the truth for you always be the main thing. Write about important, painful things. Do not be afraid to seem sentimental. Fear insincerity, stiltedness. Do not strive to please everyone and make everyone happy. Tell your truth. This is your moral duty as a writer. This is your personal revolution; the one who speaks the truth is always a rebel. "

"Ethan Kanin states: you can’t write out of anger, in retaliation. And I say to students: it’s possible and even necessary to write in retaliation. The main thing is that it goes well."

Post scriptum

Life is absurd and ridiculous. The truth in it seems to be a lie, and a lie to be the ultimate truth. We are overcome by fears, pursued by neuroses and failures. All you can do with this life is to organize it yourself. Any way you can. For writers, this way is the same - to impart a system and rhythm of this life, to turn it into almost a song. Book by book, song by song - these are not milestones of the professional path, it is a constant search for salvation from the absurdity of life.

Watch the video: How to Survive An Undertow (February 2020).


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