...and then I went to the bookstore and bought a stash of extras, so I'd always have a copy to give away when the urge hit me.
So why, you might ask, do I love this book so much? One reason is Anne's attitude, which is gentle, honest, encouraging. (Side note: I cannot help calling her Anne. Even though our acquaintance is limited to the 10 seconds I spent stammering Ireallyadmireyourbooksespeciallythisone, when it was my turn to get an autograph. She did give me a nice smile despite my rapid-fire blathering and didn't call security to have me removed as a stalker. That makes us buds, right?) Every time I read this book I emerge from its pages feeling like, yeah, maybe I can do this writing thing after all. Especially if Anne in the form of this book will sit right next to me, offering her quiet patience and acceptance.
But the other reason I love it is the content. It's beautifully written, of course, with a real voice that's rare in how-to books, so it goes down easily - but it's the reminders about how and why that I turn to when I'm stuck on my novel, a 400-word picture book manuscript or even a sympathy note about someone I barely knew.
For example, one of the first chapters is titled with a two word life line that's my mantra when I'm feeling overwhelmed by the enormous whiteness of a blank piece of paper or a new document: Short Assignments. Anne writes that she keeps a one-inch picture frame by her computer to remind herself to focus on one small, manageable task - a paragraph, a sentence - when the thought of a 350-page book makes her freak out. She describes this particular kind of terror in a way that makes me laugh, but which is also oh-so-familiar:
Trying to write a whole book "is like trying to scale a glacier. It's hard to get your footing, and your fingertips get all red and frozen and torn up. Then your mental illnesses arrive at the desk like your sickest, most secretive relatives. And they pull up chairs in a semicircle around the computer, and they try to be quiet but you know they are there with their weird coppery breath, leering at you behind your back."