a continuing project of reading and writing through Ann Lamott’s bird by bird
chapter 3: short assignments- Take things bird by bird and lighten up; write whatever you can see through a one-inch picture frame.
chapter 4: shitty first drafts- “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts” (Lamott, 25). Quiet the voices in your head that are the critics and assassins of dreams by imagining them as mice and dropping them one by one into a glass jar from which their squeaks become inaudible as you screw the lid shut.
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Olive sat in her high chair and watched her dad as he opened various jars he took from the shelves lined with about a hundred jars of herbs. He picked out a small handful of flat pieces of bark and weighed them on a hand held copper scale that teetered on a thin white measuring stick painted with black dots lined up in rows that somehow made sense to him. To make the scale even with the weight that dangled from the stick, he broke off a part of a piece of bark and measured it again. By now he’d made this mix of breathing herbs so many times, he hardly had to use the scale and measured by how they felt in his hands. For the remaining herbs, he scooped them up with hardly a glance and threw them into the pot. The pods he threw into the copper mortar and pounded them with the pestle that clanked loudly against the metal. The pods were covered with gray fur and smelled of mint when broken open.
“They’re ready,” he called.
Olive’s mom came to retrieve the pot of herbs and covered them with water. She put it on the stove, and after a while steam began to rise madly from the closed pot, and a heavy medicinal scent of rotted wood, meaty mushrooms, and spearmint filled the air. She lowered the heat and let it sit for a minute or two then brought the pot to the dining room where she set it on the table. The brown broth bubbled and frothed. Olive’s mom sat at the table and held her face over the pot to breathe in deeply the steam. She pulled Olive over the her so that she could smell the herbs.
“Hot,” Olive motioned with a waving of her hands.