Anne Lamott (who shares the same last name of my favorite literary fictional character), is an author who I have fallen in love with despite never having read a single book she wrote. Yet I resonate with every interview, article, and quote that comes from her. I feel guilty for liking her without having read her work. I just added Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life to my GoodReads wish list. Maybe Santa will leave it under my Christmas Tree.
I'm thinking of Anne Lamott because I just read another article about her writing advice on Brain Pickings (another favorite). Pulled from the linked article, which in turn was pulled from the above linked book:
One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.
In order to be a writer, you have to learn to be reverent. If not, why are you writing? Why are you here? … Think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world. Think of those times when you’ve read prose or poetry that is presented in such a way that you have a fleeting sense of being startled by beauty or insight, by a glimpse into someone’s soul. All of a sudden everything seems to fit together or at least to have some meaning for a moment. This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of — please forgive me — wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break in on our small, bordered worlds. When this happens, everything feels more spacious.
There's a whole article full of these quotes over at the Brain Pickings link I gave you, but these are two of my favorites. I often struggle to define why I write, why I continue to offer a platform here. Not struggle in the sense that I have to convince myself to keep doing it, but rather to define clearly why it matters so damn much. Lamott's words here capture a bit of that why.
So often we focus on the "how" of writing - the mechanics of language and grammar, the mechanics of making a living at it, how to promote ourselves, getting published and so on. I'm driven to focus on the why. Why would I do this if no one ever paid any attention? That's what interests me.
Of course, of course, the mechanics are important too. To deny that would be an error. But one should never lose sight of the why. Because the why is the difference between going through motions, and living.
What's your why? Tell me in comments.
In other news, a few of you expressed interest in the watercolor of the girl taking flight with a flock of book birds. I have a series in mind and when they are done, yes, prints will be for sale. I've also got some new vintage paper cut-outs coming up on Etsy within the week and before Christmas. (This here is the moment when my why and how come together ;)
Your word this week, from the quotes above, is:
Until next week word-nerds, live and write from your why.