Years ago, like back in the 90s, I bought a book called "bird by bird" by an author named Anne Lamott. The book was to help with my writing, but it actually helped with my life. And that sums up Anne Lamott. Her words are healing and hopeful because she's unabashedly honest about her struggles. She says the things I'm thinking, but they sound so much more graceful and forgiving.
I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at the Vroman's Bookstore event at All Saints Church in Pasadena on Monday night. I went with a group of women who continuously help me navigate life one day at a time. I would have been content with just that, but then to hear Ms. Lamott speak about where she is on her journey, and what being an author and a human means to her really hit home. She spoke about purpose and her new book "Stitches" - which I'm sure will be another helpful manual for living.
What is our purpose?
I like to think it's to love our neighbors and be as helpful as possible, but most of the time I have my head up my ass worrying about what's in it for me and how I can get mine. It's so good to know I'm not alone. All of us are like this. I'm sure Mother Teresa had her moments of self-absorption. It comes with being human. But there is always room to grow. And maybe that's our purpose -- to grow.
For me, Ms. Lamott hit on all pistons and her words will resonate in my soul for years to come. One lady asked the question I was too afraid to ask: "What do you do when you're blocked and can't write?"
What came next validated and confirmed so much for me as a writer:
1) Nobody cares if you write, so you do it for yourself
2) After publishing is when you really get mentally ill
3) Waiting for inspiration to come is another way of saying you're not going to write
She nailed it.
The entire evening was just wonderful, and somewhat life-changing. Here's a picture we weren't supposed to take, but my very brave friend, Cathy, went ahead and took it (per Anne's secret nod of approval, of course):
Anne Lamott, Nan (my mentor) and me.
Keep writing. It saves lives.