I thought that in reading Bird by Bird after Parisian Lives, I’m stepping away from Samuel Beckett. But Anne Lamott brings him back into my musings, with these lines –

But a writer always tries, I think, to be a part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass this on. Even someone as grim and unsentimental as Samuel Beckett, with his lunatics in garbage cans or up to their necks in sand, whose lives consist of pawing through the contents of their purses, stopping to marvel at each item, gives us great insight into what is true, into what helps. He gets it right—that we’re born astride the grave and that this planet can feel as cold and uninhabitable as the moon—and he knows how to make it funny. He smiles an oblique and private smile at us, the most delicious smile of all, and this changes how we look at life.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

I’ve been reading listening to “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott and two things stuck out – one, I didn’t know Anne Lamott is funny, and by extension, that this book is funny. Two, I love that Anne calls the very first draft of what writers write as “shitty first drafts”. I love it not because I write shitty first drafts and then better second drafts, but because I only write shitty first drafts, and then hit publish. That’s the glory of blogging. Sure, you can write, rewrite, edit, perfect. Or you can just fire off a missive into the ether and care or not that someone reads it. I know this is yet more navel-gazing re: blogging, but it’s the kind I enjoy the most. 🙂

The boy looked on as raindrops kept falling on the windshield in an uneven fashion. The car was fast and the terrain was whooshing past without refrain. The raindrops were now forming teams and racing down to the bottom, to their ultimate destiny, the race deciding on their fates. The bright light from the sky glinted in the boy’s eyes and he leaned forward to track the race better. The windshield was now nearly full and the two drops that had started it all were gaining speed and weight. The boy was now rooting for one of the drops and hating the other with all his heart. The father, who was driving, noted loudly, “hmmm, can’t see anything!” and simply hit the wiper switch once, to clear the screen. Suddenly, the race was gone, the raindrops were gone and their destinies were gone. The boy stared on, not sure what to do now.

In a few minutes, two new raindrops were racing and the boy was rooting hard for one of them. Indeed, the other one was evil. The drops were now thin, because the rain had increased and as often as the drops picked up new passengers, they were hit by falling drops and split into smaller bits. The father again said, “Bah! Can’t see anything in this rain!” and turned the wiper on. The race was again gone and so was the glint in the boy’s eyes.

The wife and kids were out. He had the entire place to himself and for the longest time, he just sat on the sofa and relaxed for a much deserved break from work. Soon, he noticed the dust on the carpet. He brought out the vacuum and worked his way from the living room all the way to the bedrooms. Then he noticed that one of the bulbs was out and he went ahead and replaced it. After that, he realized that the trash needed to be thrown and the laundry done, so he did all that. Finally, feeling tired, he sat down on the couch and blinked. By the time he woke up, the family was pulling into the drive-way and he realized he’d done all those things only in his dreams.