Friday, April 2, 2010

Bird by Bird

"So today I read several chapters of Anne Lamott's book on "writing and life," (after I wrote me some more novel), because I am teaching an advanced writing class to our study abroad students this spring and summer in Vienna, and I ordered this book as one of the texts.

What is with the long sentence?

Anyway, I read the introduction, then chapter one and chapter two, when I remembered a rule I learned when I was still teaching but I have since forgotten: you should read the text BEFORE you have your students order the book. One f-word and a chapter named "Sh--ty First Drafts." Not that those descriptions aren't accurate, because certainly first drafts are sh--ty every single time. It's I forget the world and its writers aren't as squeaky clean as I imagine the religious school I represent would like it to be.

Most students know this, of course, but occasionally you'll get a student who is easily offended and will relay this private offense to you, but usually not. Usually they tell some all powerful clergyman. I don't need this in my life.

But I do need Vienna. So, on the first day of class I will apologize for not reading before ordering, although I've read several more chapters and haven't seen more foul words.

Really, Anne Lamott is funny, wise and experienced. And she believes in Jesus. There aren't that many writers you can say that about anymore.

I made a good choice.


Rachel said...

Hemingway says the same thing about first drafts. Must be true.

CSIowa said...

I was in Vienna twenty years ago. I'd like to write a sh--ty first draft with you in Vienna. Now I feel old. You may well laugh at that, since I am not quite forty. Today (and many days) I would happily be a naive college student again.

Kerri said...

I really love that book, and I really like Anne Lamott. I say you can separate the sheep from the goats in your classes based on who is offended by it.

Is that mean of me? It probably is.

Oh well. I still think it's true.

Valerie Ipson said...

I do love that book, just had to skip over those few couple of words.

Katy said...

The church is still true, even if you have to read a few dirty words. I'm positive your students are capable of self-editing, and they will come away from the Vienna trip, forever changed--in a good way.

A clergyman would never fire a woman like you; you're too powerful:).

Now I'm going to Amazon to buy that book.

Ann said...

A great book. Very wise and specific and helpful. I didn't even notice the swear words

But then I wouldn't.

erica spelman said...

Meh. I wouldn't worry about it. It's a great book and a great writer once told me to "just write sh!t" when I would get stuck lol.(;

Holly Thatcher said...

I can't remember who, but one of my BYU professors assigned this book 15 + yrs. ago. I'm pretty sure I bought my copy at the BYU bookstore, so I think the swearing must be forgivable.

BBB said...

You did make a good choice! And just like Holly, I was also assigned this book at BYU by Susan Howe, and I also bought my copy at the BYU Bookstore.

whirligigdaisy said...

I love that book. And you.