Jennifer Lyon

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020
Musing on Anne Lamott’s 12 Truths I’ve Learned from Life

I saw the link to 12 Truths I’ve Learned from Life by Anne Lamott in one of my Facebook Groups. I found it interesting and thought I’d share the link for you guys. It’s a TED talk, so you can listen or read it. I read it myself, and am going to go back to listen to it after I set up this blog.

A couple of my favorite lines:

  1. Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts, but they keep their butt in the chair. That’s the secret of life. That’s probably the main difference between you and them. They just do it. They do it by prearrangement with themselves. They do it as a debt of honor. They tell stories that come through them one day at a time, little by little.  Yes, this! It’s exactly what I’m doing now. It’s a messy, ugly thing, but I’m giving it my commitment every day I can, even if I’m only actually writing an hour or two at a time.  And slowly, I’m hearing the whispers my characters again. Each day, each hour, each minute I put in the time to listen and type, the voices will get louder.
  2. Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from. She goes on to say MUCH more about it, and I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, for instance when she says, The most degraded and evil people I’ve ever known are male writers who’ve had huge best sellers. That is not my experience. However I do relate to many of the other things she said. One of my biggest surprise successes was The Plus One Chronicles trilogy. I woke up one day, and out of nowhere, it was taking off on the charts. I thought I was seeing things. I had to have someone else look to tell me if it was really happening. And even then, I couldn’t fully grasp what it meant. Eventually, I understood the full implications, and then, it became a frantic race to replicate it, when in all truth, it’s not something we actually can predictably replicate. That kind of sudden, out of the blue, success is as elusive as fog–we can see it, we can almost touch it, and then it shifts and sways and vanishes, only to reappear a mile down the street. A book that is a success in the moment today, may go unnoticed and unappreciated if it came out one year later, or earlier. Chasing success can be crazy-making. What created more havoc for me was the internal pressure of expectation. Both real pressures (have to make money, pay the bills, worry about making more money if someone in the family is sick–Real Life happens to all of us) and the perceived pressures of not letting anyone down; fans, family relying on me, people telling me if I did it once, I could do it again. All that pressure fills and fills until it’s an oversized balloon ready to burst. Anne is right that creative success is temporary and it can be destructive. Writers do better, in my opinion, when we can keep all that outside of our writing space. I think someone who does that well is Nora Roberts. I don’t know her, but my impression of her is that she can separate her author/businesswoman persona from the writer who sits down at that keyboard and writes a story.

Wow I had a lot to say today, LOL! Anyhow, I think this is worth a read or listen if you’re interested.

Happy Wednesday, my friends!

6 comments to “Musing on Anne Lamott’s 12 Truths I’ve Learned from Life”

  1. Silver James
    February 12th, 2020 at 10:01 am · Link

    Yes. Everything you said but especially #3–at least in regards to Life Pressures that pile on and play havoc with the brain. I want to be Nora Roberts. Well, write like her anyway. But the noise in my head and the outside pressures and all the contingent BS turns into a paralyzing stew that simmers there.

    I sit at the computer every day, with every intention of writing for hours, for thousands of words, for…someting that moves a project forward. And then I…just sit. Mostly.

    I do manage, sometimes, to write tiny little bites now and again. Small scenes. Hopefully, important scenes that will fit together into the jigsaw puzzle that has become my process.

    Time to turn thoughts into action. Right? Thanks for the nudge. Here’s to a successful writing week for all of us. :)

  2. Viki S.
    February 12th, 2020 at 3:31 pm · Link

    Can’t write much. Hubs used the printer that was on the floor and there is ink all over the WHITE carpet. MEN!

    The truths sounds interesting. I have to check it out.

    Have a great day!

  3. B.E. Sanderson
    February 12th, 2020 at 5:37 pm · Link

    Ack! It’s Wednesday! I don’t know why I thought it was Tuesday and that there wouldn’t be a post here today.


    It does sound interesting. Lord knows, it couldn’t hurt to check it out. My main problem is getting my butt in the chair and keeping it there. If I ever have a success, I’ll keep an eye out for having to recover from it. Not that big a problem right now. Continuing to slog on without much success? Now that’s an issue.

  4. Jenn
    February 12th, 2020 at 6:55 pm · Link

    Silver, yes 3# too. And don’t feel alone at sitting at the computer for fruitless frustrating hours. I couldn’t get a scene nailed today and yeah, UGH! We just have to keep showing up and believing that each day is a step forward even if we can see the evidence.

    Turning thoughts into actions is a great motto! Let’s all try to live it when we can and forgive ourselves when we can’t.

  5. Jenn
    February 12th, 2020 at 6:56 pm · Link

    Viki OH NO!! I’m sorry, you must be very aggravated today. I hope you can find a way to get the ink out, if that’s even possible.

  6. Jenn
    February 12th, 2020 at 7:05 pm · Link

    B.E. that’s okay, part of me thought it was Friday…I’m easily confused if I don’t rigidly stick to my routine.

    So two things, first butt in the chair without feeling any significant payoff is so damned hard. I hear what you’re saying. It’s one reason I reconsidered what I was writing today because that was just one part of a long journey, and that success was built on years and years of failure.

    But what you’re going through now is real and a tough road. There are angry mountains to climb, and pits of depression to traverse all while fighting to tell the best story you can. Writing a book is so easy to talk about an incredibly hard to do. Most people don’t finish a book for that reason, but you have finished many books. You are a good writer and truly deserve the break that will allow success to find you.

Comments are closed.