The Eagle on Your Credit Card

Almost every single thing you hope publication will do for you is a fantasy, a hologram - it’s the eagle on your credit card that only seems to soar. What’s real is that if you do your scales every day, if you slowly try harder and harder pieces, if you listen to great musicians play music you love, you’ll get better.
— Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

If Annie said it, I believe it. And she, of course, meant writing.

It is hard not to constantly compare other writers to Anne Lamott, she who thinks of things so ordinary as the eagle on your credit card as a way to help us aspiring writers know what we shouldn’t be chasing.

I’m reading a book on writing by a writer who is new to me, and again, I think always and often of Annie as I read. I know there is room in the world for us all to have our voices, so I must keep trying to let Dani be Dani.


Dani Shapiro bursts the balloon of publication achievement in her own way.

The only reason to be a writer is because you have to. Most of the time, even if you’ve achieved publication and are lucky enough to be one of the few writers left in the country who are sent on book tour, you will find yourself in some small city where you know no one, in a hotel right off the highway that smells like room sanitizer, getting ready to give a reading where you might have an audience of five people sitting on folding chairs...
— Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

The point is that publication cannot be the point. It isn’t worth it to write for that reason. It helps me to hear other writers, published writers, say this in their various ways so I won’t forget.

The blank page this week was not easy to come to. Annie always says we own what happens to us, but sometimes I get tired of thinking about and talking about what has happened to me. At moments, I feel like nothing I have to say is interesting any more, and who cares whether or not I blog?

But I press on because I’m a writer, and writing has saved me, is saving me, and will save me. It it one of the realest things I know and I plant my feet firmly in it again today. The eagle may soar but I have landed at my writing desk in order to do what is mine to do.

The only thing to do when the sense of dread and low self-esteem tells you that you are not up to this is to wear it down by getting a little work done every day.
— Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird