Writing on Writing – Anne Lamott and Looking for Truth

Here are some more quotes from Bird by Bird – a delightful book even if you are not a writer!  Reading Anne Lamott will improve your skill and appreciation as a reader as well as a writer.

Breathing under Water students, check out this one!

“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 lights 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 all have had too much of. . . . . If you are writing the clearest truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its on little lighthouse.  Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save, they just stand there shining.”

This quote reminds me of Frederick Buechner’s insistence on Telling Secrets:

“The great writers keep writing about the cold dark place within, the water under a frozen lake or the secluded, camouflaged hole  The light they shine on this hole, this pit, helps us cut away or step around the brush and brambles; then we can dance around the rim of the abyss, holler into it, measure it, throw rocks in it, and still not fall in.  It can no longer swallow us up.  And we can get on with things.”

And, finally, another statement about being “a wounded healer” (Henri Nouwen) for the writer

“Toni Morrison said, ‘The function of freedom is to free someone else,’ and if you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story.  Risk freeing someone else. Members of your family and other critics may wish you had kept your secrets.  Oh, well, what are you going to do?  Get it all down.  Let it pour out of you onto the page.  Write an incredibly shitty, self- indulgent, whiny, mewling first draft.  Then take out as many of the excesses as you can.”

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