Posts Tagged ‘Anne Lamott’

We had a meeting yesterday at work about how we’ll use space in the future. The five of us in the room knew the meeting was necessary, even wanted it,  but the longer we looked at drawings and talked, the higher our stress levels rose. There were simply too many moving parts in our heads if not on the table, and cost could not be one of them. “Do we still need . . .?” “But what if. . .?” “No, that’s won’t work because. . .”

We finally had to call the meeting, having identified a couple of questions that need answering before we can resolve anything. No one was comfortable, and some of us were downright cranky.

Creativity isn’t just about art, design, and architecture. Life is a creative process. The best solutions to problems are usually creative.  And results of creativity don’t appear on the first try, full-blown, a masterpiece. Whether you’re painting, or writing, or composing, or arranging your office, or fixing a meal, it’s a messy process. Anne Lamott has a whole chapter called “Shitty First Drafts” in Bird by Bird, her book on writing and life. It’s hilarious, and spot-on.

Anne’s one of my favorite authors. So is Malcolm Gladwell. In this short video, he talks about the need to embrace chaos. That sounds scary, but I think he’s right. Controlled chaos, probably. One can’t careen completely out of control and do much good at all.

So, let’s keep creating.

In the midst.


Read Full Post »

The struggle within

If I’m to list my house for sale by the end of next month, which is my intention, I have to make my rooms presentable. One of my goals today was to get two boxes out of my dining room that have been sitting on the floor there for, oh, maybe six months. Goal accomplished, sort of — some stuff is really gone, but now I have four piles of articles and notes on my office floor.

Some of these articles I clipped or printed over ten years ago. Why can I not just pitch them? For one thing, one of my StrengthsFinder strengths is “input.” I relish receiving information, and when I read something that resonates with me, my first instinct is to save it. Something in me just knows it will be useful, and often, eventually, it is. Hence the files. Nine or so months ago I thinned them out considerably; these seem too dear to pitch.

A person’s files say something about who she or he is. Looking at these stacks on the floor around me, I can’t seem to get rid of articles about faith, culture, grief, synesthesia, and writers and writing. In fact, I am a writer, and I’ve taught writing. That’s why I collected some of these.  For instance, I have notes and printouts on essay writing. Is not a blog post a form of essay? Seems to me it is, but I haven’t been able to write one for over a month.

You don’t know how often I come to this page and try. I’ll think I have something to say, and it evaporates when I open WordPress, seeming either meaningless or too personal to throw out there for the whole world to read.

Tonight I’ve seen again my notes from Anne Lamott‘s Bird by Bird.  I’d quoted her where she  says, “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.” (pp. 225-226)

I know she’s right, and this is exactly what I struggle with. My life is and has been overflowing with real emotion. I’m almost afraid to let it out. At the same time I want to, but I’m protective of what’s going on inside me like I’d be of a toddler in traffic, and rightly so.

I’m glad I saw those notes again tonight. (See, they are useful.) Absent or fraudulent is not acceptable to me.  So I’ll keep doing this dance with the “Add New Post” page over and over.


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: