Did you ever pick up a book thinking it was about one thing, and then been soooo frustrated because it just was not about that thing that you bought it for?
I did, a couple times recently, but let me talk about the most recent such book: Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott.
First off, I bought the book based on the author and other books she had written, and she is close to my age, and she has dread locks, and she identifies as a Christian. (I know run-on sentence, but that’s how I think) Anyway, remember those dread locks, her definition of Christian and mine have a little wiggle room between them. Not a bad thing because it has not kept me from reading her work and doing some thinking. And I confess, I also did some shuddering when she used language for which my mother would have washed my mouth out with soap.
I should have looked more closely at the book! The early parts of it are more about the Almost Everything stuff than the Hope part. But I plowed on because I sort of trusted her to still have something that I needed. And I am so glad I did.
Before you go to Amazon and order this book, understand that it is not for everybody. Somebody very dear to me handed it back to me with the admonition that maybe I would not like to pass it on. Like me, she had expectations and well, I need to get back to the book.
The first part of it was lot like the notes on everything theme, But then, I hit what for me was gold. That’s why I think we have to read with discernment, being able to hold things against what we believe and toss what doesn’t. Anyway, I’m a writer and when I hit chapter six on writing, I got my pen out, not ready to underline lots but to mark things I wanted to come back to like these nuggets of gold:
- If you do stick with writing, you will get better and better, and you can start to learn the important lessons like who you really are, and how all of us can live in the face of death, and how important it is to pay attention to life, moment by moment, which is why you are here. (86)
Yup, I agree. You do get better the more you write, and you can learn stuff, about yourself when you write. When I am feeling or need to figure something out, I get out some paper and a pen and start writing. Sometimes a poem, sometimes an essay, sometimes just words that make the most sense to me. But it helps me to write it because I have to think about the matter and the words and figure it out and how I feel about it and what I should do about it.
- After a discussion about why you should write, Lamott says this: Write because you have to, because the process brings great satisfaction. Write because you have a story to tell, not because you think publishing it will make you the person you always wanted to be. There is approximately zero chances of that happening. (90) She speaks truth.
- And the last nugget I will share today is this: -say it, say what has happened that seemed worth the telling, or that you don’t want to forget. Stories are when something happened that you didn’t expect, that lead to some deep internal change in yourself or the main character. (91)
Yup again. I read this book looking for hope. Not about writing necessarily, but to get some hope to dig myself out of this pain I was feeling after the death of someone I loved very much.
As I said, at first I was just ticked because I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Then I realized maybe I was looking for the wrong thing. God made me a writer, and through the journey to the death of my loved one, I found myself mired in an abyss of pain, forgetting the way out.
My husband and I led or facilitated a grief recovery group for nearly five years, and suddenly I couldn’t remember how to deal…with life. I knew the words, just couldn’t quite make them fit for me.
Then God spoke to me through a book I was mad at. He made me a writer and in the writing, I could find healing. There in the writing because it took me back to Him, the author of all healing. Anyway writers, the book might be worth it to you for this chapter only… because it has a lot more starred stuff. Maybe I will tell you more about the other good stuff in it next week.