Roasted Bird on a Stick


To kick off the tour of the Progressive Book Club, taking place on this page Wednesday, Feb. 20th, we pause for a celebration to honor a very influential and gifted author.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Martin Dean, and I’ll be your practically sober host for the evening. Our guest of honor for tonight’s roast, I mean honor, is an author of seven novels and seven non-fiction books, including the much acclaimed and widely read Bird by Bird.

I first met Anne Lamott in high school gym class. She had the nickname of “fireplace log” because all the boys wanted to take a poke at her. Bam! She was my date for the senior prom. We never made it to the dance floor. Instead, we spent all night in the broom closet. Let me tell you, that girl could squeeze a mop head like nobody’s business. Whack! We have a few writers who would like to honor you tonight Annie. Unfortunately, they’re all passed out at the bar. Wham!

So instead, we invited Annie’s High School English teacher. Ladies and gentlemen, your favorite Greek epicist, and Annie’s favorite teacher, Mr. Homer.  (Mr. Homer enters)

Thanks Martin. Seriously folks, Annie was a terrific student. Kind, supportive, and of course, eccentrically brilliant. I had no idea that eventually, she would become the teacher and I would be the pupil. You might have heard of a little piece I wrote called The Iliad and the sequel, Revenge of the Iliad. Before I wrote those epics, I always believed that I needed to know exactly how the story unfolded, every chapter, every page, every paragraph and sentence. The novel was written in my head before it ever became scrawled upon the papyrus. I outlined like crazy until I couldn’t take it any longer and I faced the Mount Olympus of writer’s block. Then I got very weary and depressed. So depressed, I was ready to drink the hemlock, just like my friend Socrates. Then I read Bird by Bird. Allow me to read the line that changed everything.

“You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”

Those words struck me like a bolt from the hand of Zeus, and after that, I became a new writer. The Greek words poured out of me like olive oil from a jug. Would you do me the honor of endorsing my latest MS? I’m calling it The Odyssey. Or Caddyshack, I can’t decide. Anyway, thank you for the great advice Annie. I’ll see you in the broom closet. (Mr. Homer exits)

Our next guest comes all the way from parts unknown. He or she has some words for you, Annie. I hope you’re ready for them. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for…



About JJerome

I am a writing teacher by trade and novelist by passion. My first novel, The Crossover Test, was written in the summer of 2011, after a student by the name of Daniel wrote in my yearbook - "Mr. Schwartz, you should write a book." What started as friendly words ended up as a supernatural thriller that I would not want him to read, not without parental approval. Daniel, if you are reading this, thanks for the inspiration, and I hope you enjoy the ride (as long as your Mom says it's okay).


Roasted Bird on a Stick — 10 Comments

  1. Big Joe,

    Or should I say Martin Dean? Very accurate description of Anne’s Engligh teacher. I think I was in her class as well. I remember that after Mr. Homer took rool, Anne and the football team all went to the bathroom together. I had a couple of accidents in my pants because he wouldnt let me leave without the bathroom pass. Why do I tell bathroom stories on your blog?

    Anyway, great point about not needing to see more than a step or two in the novel. To me it helps to have a general direction to point the ship and then I can let it fly. I like this and it is a great description of the thought process.

    • “You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”

      This quote was an affirmation. I was leading myself to believe that I needed to know how the sequel was going to end.

      If you were in Annie English class, then you are old. That makes me really old.

      Curse you Rob Akers ;)

      • I have been cursed for doing a lot worse than making an old man feel old. I am not phased or intimidated.

        I think it is perfectly okay to start writing without a particular end in mind. That is how life is, we start an endeavor with the intentions of a particular ending but most of the time it doesn’t end like that. How many kids start college thinking they will graduate, but in reality they quit after the first year. Or how many people get married only to get divorced. It is 50/50, so what can’t you write a book thinking it will end one way, but the course of the project it goes differently. I think that is perfectly acceptable. And, the end of a book does not have to be particularly satisfying or happy. That is the norm, but that does not represent real life.

        Don’t be scared. Write with no fear and let the story take you along for the ride.

        Just my advice.

        • Write with no fear and let the story take you along for the ride.

          Good advice Rob. I just realized something…I was afraid to write the sequel, hence the perfectionism and hesitancy. I think I’m over that now. Onward and upward. Sideways or backwards.

  2. Mr. JJerome, Martin Dean, Lawford Peter, Brooks Foster, or whatever alcohol-induced personality you’re channeling…what a delightful and inventive post. Did you screw up your days or something? LOL.

    I plan…I plot…I outline…I think…and when I do it that way, it goes sllllooooowwwww. Sitting down and letting it flow happens a lot quicker. Sloppier first draft, but quicker. I’m learning to integrate the two.

    I knew Anne back in the early days when her book was called, Egg by Egg. Bah-dump-bah!

    • Yup, I screwed my days. BY A WHOLE MONTH! I have often been accused of being a little, shall we say, spacey. Didn’t they say the same thing about Einstein, Michelangelo, and Steve Jobs?

      By the way, I do all the cornball jokes here, thank you very much.

      Thanks for visiting. I look forward to the real PBC Tour.

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