Thursday, May 24, 2012

Writing - A Powerful Teacher

Been reading this book called 'Bird by Bird' by Anne Lamott for the first time. (I know. I'm in my twenties, a writer, and I've never read Bird by Bird. I'm basically a disgrace.) I came across this quote that I liked quite a bit.

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

Anne Lamott, quoting E. L. Doctorow, Bird by Bird, page 18

I agree with that quote. Especially since I'm a discovery writer. :) When I write my novels, it's like driving a car at night with only the vaguest idea where I'm going. Scary as heck, but quite the adventure.

It occurred to me this evening, when I was pondering a few things about life, that this lovely quote on writing is also a great metaphor for life. (No duh, Joseph. Anne Lamott said that right after she quoted E.L. Doctorow.)

Since when has anybody ever been able to see more than a few steps in front of them? Since, like, never. Frustrating, yes. I want to see further. I mean, for pete's sake, wouldn't anybody? Wouldn't we like to see what will happen if we do this thing, date this person, take this or that path, say these or those things? I sure would.

But life isn't designed that way. And... I think it's for the best.

There are a million things that writing can teach us about life. I think that's one of the reasons I am a writer - because writing is such a powerful teacher, and I love learning.

What has writing taught you about life? Or about anything, for that matter?

(I also posted this on Utah Children's Writers - go and leave me a comment there too, if you like!)


  1. Loved the post--especially the quote and analogy. It's good seeing you at UCW too.

  2. Thanks for this post, Joseph. I hadn't thought about that quote that way before. Love Bird by Bird!

    What have I learned? Writing has taught me patience, and how to set aside thought of results or rewards (since they are nearly always slow to come) and focus on savoring the moment. Because if you don't, you get ulcers.

    Better just to throw yourself into making the most of whatever creativity and time you've got.