Thursday, October 28, 2010

Anne Lamott

Lately I've been reading quite a bit of Anne Lamott in anticipation of doing a "Writerly Response." The Writerly Response is one of the assignments in my creative writing class that is required for an A. Basically, you choose a contemporary writer (my teacher doesn't want any of us turning into the next Homer, apparently) and do a little analysis of their writing before making a short attempt to write like that author (about 4-6 pages).

Hearing about this assignment (especially the "contemporary writer" part) gave me a tiny bit of a sinking feeling in my stomach. Let's just say I have trouble connecting with contemporary authors. I'm more of a "classics" kind of gal. But I am determined to get that A! (By golly!)

So I crossed Emily Bronte and Jane Austen off my mental list and started searching for a contemporary author (written with much sarcasm). I idly asked my mom, a great reader, what writer she thought I ought to do. She immediately suggested Anne Lamott and found me Lamott's Bird by Bird.

Well, folks, I fell in love. At least, with Lamott's writing style. Funny without being forced, helpful without being instructive, and confessional without being martyr-ish (is there an adjective for the word "martyr"?) Moreover, I could actually see myself writing like Lamott (which is the main idea of the Writerly Response). I could hardly believe that I had found my equivalent in the very-experienced, very-talented, rather-famous writing world.

I get the feeling, with Lamott, that she is a more interesting person on paper than she is in person. I'm not trying to say that in a bad way, just that if I met Anne Lamott, I think she would seem, more or less, like a normal, ordinary person. (She's always talking about her various mental illnesses, but I suspect these affect her actions a lot less than one might think.)

Sometimes I wish that instead of going out and having actual interaction with others, I could just write letters to all my acquaintances. That way, I might be able to manage coming off as intelligent and deep-thinking, rather than either extremely ordinary or pretty dorky (which, I imagine, is what most people think of me).

Anyway - pretty soon I'm going to be writing a short piece in the style of Anne Lamott, so that's what you all have to look forward to. In addition, I hope you'll consider reading Lamott's Bird by Bird, which is my new favorite book. :)