Thursday, September 24, 2009

A couple of rereads

Continuing with my attempts to get caught up with my book reviews, I'm going to knock out two in one review. I reread a couple of books. I was needing some motivation so hit up two of my favorite motivational/self-help texts. The Zanders' Art of Possibility I reviewed earlier this year. Being open to possibility is something I tend to be but I lose sight of it when I get stressed out. When doors seem to be closing or a path I've chosen seems to be moving in the wrong direction, it becomes easy to be doubtful. The first precept of this book is that it is all invented. All our perceptions are created by ourselves in reaction to something. It's the whole half-full/half-empty argument.

Ben Zander loves to tell the tale of two shoe salesmen who go to some remote African village to ply their trade. The first wires back "Situation hopeless, they don't wear shoes". The second, in his missive to the main office writes "Glorious opportunity, they don't have shoes". Same situation, different outlook.

I've needed the change in outlook. It looked like I would have to suspend school. My calf got really messed up. Boowahs started school which caused a whole readjustment. The whole money, job, diet, loneliness struggles with which I seem to deal with regularly. I really needed to recapture my ability to view possibility and the reread helped a lot.

The other reread was Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. This book is about writing but some of it has applicability outside of writing. Actually, it is even more so about writing fiction. I enjoy it because it breaks the process of writing down into all these different parts. I've actually been plugging away at my own book and again, not viewing it as some gigantic project that is going to take forever but instead looking at it as a fun, manageable thing that I can do in steps has been helpful.

The title comes from a story about Lamott's brother. Growing up he had a school paper due on different birds. He put it off until the last minute and the night before it was due broke down into tears, wondering how on earth he would ever get it done. His father replied "Bird by bird". Breaking things down into steps can be really helpful.

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