The Saturday Creativity Quote

Turns out it’s harder to quote from Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird than I thought it would be, because Lamott doesn’t dole out her wisdom in bumper-sticker size snippets. Instead, she embeds it into stories — which is itself a great lesson. But I do love this:

“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 have all had too much of.”

Speaks to the importance of writing honestly and with your whole self at any time, but especially now, don’t you think?

Saturday Creativity Quote — Lamott and Polaroids

This month I’m sharing some of what struck me while re-reading Anne Lamott’s classic, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

“Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t—and, in fact, you’re not supposed to—know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.” But, she says, as the picture emerges, you see something else besides what you thought you were focused on. “Knowledge of your characters also emerges the way a Polaroid develops: it takes time for you to know them.”

I love this image. It’s true whether you consider yourself a planner or a pantser. Whether we start by making notes or by writing sentences, we’re all after the same thing: the images that emerge from the sticky green goo of creativity.

Friends, if you’re in the Flathead Valley, join me Tues, Oct 11, from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center (in the Village, next to the library), for the launch of BLIND FAITH (written as Alicia Beckman) and a talk on the creative process.

Saturday Creativity Quote — Anne Lamott

When I travel, I often take a book on writing to dip in and out of — not a craft book, but something more personal and inspirational. For our trip to Switzerland and Italy, I decided to reread Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. It came out in 1994 and my guess is I read it not long after, when I just beginning to write fiction. It was eye-opening to see how much of her advice has become articles of faith to me — did I first glean them from her, or do her suggestions resonate with me now because I’ve reached the same conclusions? Doesn’t matter. If you haven’t read it, or not in ages, I recommend it. It’s like having a smart, smart-mouthed, supportive older sister telling you what she knows, exactly when you need to hear it. I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite quotes over the next few weeks. For now, I want to say what strikes me the most — and this could be a reflection of my own stage and state of mind — is the importance of doing things that give you confidence, no matter what stage you’re at. It could be getting feedback on a WIP or a note from a reader, or simply knowing that you wrote a true sentence or signed up for a class or filled a page in your notebook with memories that you trust will feed the work.

More next week.

Friends, if you’re in the Flathead Valley, join me Tues, Oct 11, from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center (in the Village, next to the library), for the launch of BLIND FAITH (written as Alicia Beckman) and a talk on the creative process.

The Saturday Writing Quote — Anne LaMott

In writing, “[y]ou have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver. … [T]hink of the writers who have given a book to [you], and then write a book back to them.”

– Anne LaMott, Amercian novelist and nonfiction writer, b. 1954, in Bird by Bird