Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lamott - Telling The Truth

Anne Lamott is a brave woman. At her next writers' conference, she's going to tell her students to give up and go home. They probably don't have much talent and they probably won't get published. And even if they do, it won't make them happy. ... This is just what creative-writing students don't want to hear, but Lamott says that anything else is lies. She's tired of students who want to get published but don't seem to want to write, so ... she said she was going to tell them the truth.
Jane Sullivan in the Age doubts whether Lamott, author of one of the seminal and most inspiring works on creative writing, Bird by Bird : Some Instruction on Writing and Life (a must read for the new writer) would really have the heart, because she herself had to struggle painfully to become an author :
The odd thing is that despite all the angst, Lamott does succeed in making the reader feel that just possibly spending your life writing every day is a noble, worthwhile and even joyful occupation, even if you never achieve any worldly success. In that sense, she's deeply inspiring. ... With writing, she says, "we are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship."
You can read Lamott's columns for Salon.com here and I thought you might enjoy this interview from the 2007 Writer's Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University.

4 comments:

Chet said...

I think this is the article referred to:

How to be a writer

It was first published in 1996.

bibliobibuli said...

that's weird!!! jane sullivan talks about the article as if it isn't published yet and it's 12 years old! not that the ideas date but.

bibliobibuli said...

oh i think i understand. "bird by bird" has been reissued and maybe this material has been included. but it is so confusing without the full context!

Eliza said...

I havent' clicked to any of the links yet but thank you for writing about Anne. I enjoyed Bird by Bird very very much and even re-read some parts for inspiration (and enjoyment). Am now reading John Gardner's On Becoming a Novelist but his style is that of a stern teacher than friendly supporter.