So, I love Anne Lamott. It’s been awhile since I read it, but Bird by Bird was one of my favorite writing advice books. I’ve taken several writing classes with two wonderful women – Janet Thomas and Susan Reese – and both have read her “shitty first drafts” excerpt to encourage the class to write. I find her funny and wise and kind-hearted. There is a section of Bird by Bird that I can open to naturally, even taking the book off the shelf after years without touching it. I’ll excerpt it here:
“Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the light on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.”
“Try to write in a directly emotional way, instead of being too subtle or oblique. Don’t be afraid of your material or your past. Be afraid of wasting any more time obsessing about how you look and how people see you. Be afraid of not getting your writing done.
“If something inside you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don’t worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act–truth is always subversive.”