I was first introduced to writer Anne Lamott during a creative nonfiction class I took as a junior in college. We read her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, as a way to learn how to write narrative essays without getting bogged down.
When I’m stuck writing I love to go back to her book for particular passages. It reminds me that it’s ok to be neurotic, it’s ok to have a shitty first draft, but that you just have to sit down and do it. As a writer, Lamott is open and honest and funny — three qualities I appreciate from anyone who spends time writing about themselves.
Although I’m not as familiar with it, Lamott is also novelist and memoirist (is that even a word)? Lamott describes her writing like this:
“I try to write the books I would love to come upon, that are honest, concerned with real lives, human hearts, spiritual transformation, families, secrets, wonder, craziness — and that can make me laugh. When I am reading a book like this, I feel rich and profoundly relieved to be in the presence of someone who will share the truth with me, and throw the lights on a little, and I try to write these kinds of books. Books, for me, are medicine.”
I’ve never read her fiction, but have always wanted to read her three books on faith — Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, and Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. I wasn’t raised going to church or anything like that, so I feel like Lamott’s rambling journey and discoveries would be lovely to read.
Anyway… Anne Lamott turns 55 today, so let’s all wish her a very happy birthday!