Anne Lamott recently published a new novel, and when I saw it in the bookstore, I was reminded again of how much her book bird by bird has inspired me over the years. I read it first in 1995, and I have yet to read a more inspiring book about writing. This book has mentored me for 15 years as a writer and as a teacher of writing, especially in the sections about the writing process:
“Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do – the actual act of writing – turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”
I thought of this quote when I was conferring with a first grader about a wonderful pirate story she had just written. Her story was full of adventures pirates encountered while searching for a treasure. She loved sharing her story with me, and though I was asked to model a conference with this child while teachers observed, all I could focus on was how much fun it was to hear this story, and how much fun it must have been for her to write it.
Here is the entire text of our “conference”:
- Me: Isn’t it fun to write pirate stories?
- First grade writer: Yeah.
- Me: Do you want to write another one?
- First grader: YES!
So, the act of writing a pirate story when you are six years old turns out to be its own reward.