What I’ve Learned from Anne Lamott

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM ANNE LAMOTT

I started reading Anne Lamott in the late nineties. I wanted to move from playwriting, which I’d done for decades, to novels and had been told by a handful of smart people that Ms. Lamott’s Bird by Bird was as valuable a guide to writing good prose as I could find.

I loved her voice, her life force. Since Bird by Bird I’ve read everything she’s published as well as most of her blogs. Next to my wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, nieces, and a small handful of very close friends, Anne Lamott is my favorite woman in the world. She is my model for honesty about oneself and the willingness to see the dark side of life while continually moving toward the light.

In preparation for the publication of my new novel, Hello, Rest of My Life, I sent a copy of it to Ms. Lamott, hoping she’d read it and give me a “blurb.” This is something an author is not supposed to do. It’s okay to ask to send a copy of your book, then hope for a response. But sending the book without an invitation to do so is a no-no.

Unfortunately I don’t have time to observe all the protocols. I think as an author I have something to say, but regrettably not forever and a day to say it. So I broke the rule and skipped the “Would you let me send you my book?” part. I was pretty sure nothing I sent would find its way to her anyway. If you’ve read or seen a little about her, you know she’s one of the busiest, not to mention enlightened and accomplished creative artists around. She has over 600,000 Facebook followers and draws crowds wherever she speaks.

Three days ago, I got an email from her. She apologized to me for taking so long to get back. She said she liked my title and the description of Hello, Rest of My Life, but she was up to her eyeballs and couldn’t promise to read it any time soon.” “But,” she added, “I am so pleased that you sent it to me, and I send you congratulations on this and all your work.”

And then she signed it, “Anne Lamott.”

Well, really! What more do I need? It’s far more than reasonable that she says she doesn’t have time to read it “any time soon.”

So, I’ve learned from Anne Lamott how to be a better writer than I used to be, plus I’ve had reinforced in the tiny clear-sightedness subdivision of my mind that it’s possible to be a successful, inspired, creative artist and a first-rate human being all at the same time. I’ve been given yet another model—and we never stop needing those—as I tread my path, of the way I’d like to be in this world.

 

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