Friday, March 18, 2005


from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

"Some of the loneliest, most miserable, neurotic, despicable people we know have been the most successful in the world."

"My therapist said that jealousy is a secondary emotion, that it is born out of feeling excluded and deprived and if I worked on those age old feelings, I would probably break through the jealously. I tried to get her to give me a prescription for Prozac, but she said that this other writer was in my life to help me heal my past. She said that this writer had helped bring up a lifetime's worth of feeling that other families were happier than ours, that other families had some owner's manual to go by. She said it was once again that business of comparing my insides to other people's outsides. She said to go ahead and feel the feelings. I did. They felt like shit."

"We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you'll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you've already been in. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping the one door shut. But the writer's job is to see what's behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words- not just into any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues...But you can't get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beautifully, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don't have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysseses that we were told not to go into. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in- them we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment. And that moment is home."

"To be great, art has to point somewhere. So if you are no longer familiar with that place of conscience, it's hard to see any point in your being a writer. Almost all of my close friends are walking personality disorders, but I know innocence is in them because I can see it in their faces and in their decisions. I can almost promise that this quality is still in you, that you are capable of quiet heroism. This sophisticated innocence is a gift."

"If something inside of 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 vulnerablitliy. 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."

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