Reading Circles – This is How

If you “Like” Bigger Picture Blogs on Facebook (and if you haven’t yet, WHY haven’t you??), you might have seen a picture I shared via Augusten Burroughs…it’s a picture of a towel hanging, and there was a story attached on the side.

In the story, Burroughs says, ” When I was finished, I experienced the most unfamiliar thing: calm. And I realized that taking action and doing something I didn’t know how to do but had to figure out on the fly had been enough to occupy my brain and prevent it from skipping ahead in search of the next cliff, hurricane or Very Bad News waiting for me around the next corner with a chloroform-soaked rag and a burlap potato sack.” And he followed it up by saying, “When your actions and your thoughts are in the same room at the same time doing the exact same thing, you’re “living in the moment.”

And I thought, if someone can unpack a moment like that so well, he’s gotta’ be worth a read. So I looked him up and discovered he wrote Running With Scissors  (which has been turned into a movie) among several other books, both fiction and not.

I discovered he wrote a book called This is How. I clicked on the excerpt, without really knowing what the book was about, and I found a chapter on how to be confident. Smuggled in that chapter was this line:

“Generosity feels something like gratitude and pleasure blended together.”

He was talking about how we think confidence is a human trait, and if that’s the case we should be able to feel it like we feel generosity – and what we think we feel as confidence is actually mistaken. What we’re really feeling is competence.

But that line struck me. That generosity is a feeling of gratitude. In being thankful, and grateful, our hearts are more open and generous. It is in gratitude, we find charity and selflessness.

It’s a self-help book of sorts, though not the typical kind. Think Brene Brown, but delivered by a cussing New Yorker male. He may not be for everyone. But I figured a novelist writing about confidence had to be worth checking out because I’m pretty sure I’ve met a confident novelist never.

And sometimes what we need most to free ourselves as writers is not skills, but confidence. Augusten Burroughs seems particularly adept at uncovering and examining all our hidden feelings, and unpacking them for what they really are – not just the labels we attach to them. Which is ALSO an important trait for writers, to go beyond the cliche by cultivating a habit of taking everything under the microscope.

So for our next read, I’d like to put forth Augusten Burrough’s book, This is How.

I’ve taken a brief look at it and, from what I’ve seen so far, I’d say there are some moments of amazing insight in here. Not all are things I’d agree with – and some chapters, I’d even be tempted to say “Who gives you the right?” But I guarantee there are things in here that’ll make you think about things differently and see them in a different light – and that’s always a good thing.

So if you’re on board, see if you can pick up his book sometime this week and we’ll start this journey together the week after Thanksgiving!

Happy Friday everyone!


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