4.26.2012

straight talk :: reflections on a writer's background

Recently I attended a lecture by Anne Lamott, a fabulous author whom I'd never read.  Luckily, my friend Amanda's adoration of this author was strong enough to pique my interest and so I tagged along.

WOW!  What an amazing woman, speaker & writer.  After the lecture, I bought her book Bird by Bird.  I've only dipped my toe into it, but already I'm kicking myself for not reading this book years ago.  It's precisely the book I need right now on my writing journey.

She has overcome a lot:  Alcoholism (she refers to herself as a sober alcoholic which I find wonderfully appropriate and a better term than "recovered"), atheist parents, drugs, single parenthood, etc.  Like I said, I've only dipped my toe into learning about Ms. Lamott, but she brilliantly shares all of her struggles and how she uses these crises to become a better writer.

Right on, great work, keep on inspiring others!  Here's the thing... after listening to her, I felt an unfamiliar tug in my gut... can I be a writer without those monumental hurdles?

I was raised by Christian parents who love and respect each other and me.  I have a faithful parenting partner.  I have healthy children.  I have enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table.  I have a support network through friends and church.

Does anyone want to read the words of a writer with such a blessed life?  Oh sure, I have BAD days and a faint trail of bad relationships (I can think of three... me thinks I'm doing pretty good!).  I've spent days and nights sick with worry.  I've cried in sorrow and have been paralyzed with fear.  Yet, I know many people would trade my life with theirs in a heart beat.  My obstacles pale in comparison when compared to an addict, an abused woman, a single mom, an orphan, a refugee...

I am not apologizing for my life or wishing that my parents had been anything less.  I'm a product of a unique situation... a Christian situation.  And not just your typical "Christian" family... a real one.

So, I guess what I've just discovered through writing this is that I DO have a lot of blessings in my life and I know precisely from whom my gifts have been given.  I fear I just received yet another nudge toward the religious writing project that I've been trying to avoid.

And hey, in the spirit of full disclosure, one great obstacle in my life is something that I've never shared publicly:  being married to and raising kids with a man who doesn't share my faith.  Imagine not being able to share such a huge slice of yourself with the love of your life!  Perhaps I should start here...

6 comments:

  1. First, what I believe makes a good writer is their ability to describe a moment so beautifully that you think "it's like she read my mind and put it on the page!"

    People who have hurdles and struggles in their lives simply have more material :)

    You need to ask yourself, what can people relate to about me? What is it that I can share where another woman will say "YES! EXACTLY!"

    Start there.

    I love the lazy green mama idea. Being "green" is pretty trendy right now. And lots of people want to do it, but have no idea where to start. And it's pretty darn intimidating. That blog made it seem doable.

    However, I think the thing that makes a blog stand out isn't just the idea or the "good idea" content. It's also sharing our failures. Because failure is what makes everyone relatable. Or feelings of failure (even if it's small). Sharing our worries, our concerns, our humanness is what makes someone say "YES! EXACTLY!"

    In our world today, we're surrounded with images of perfection and told "this is what you should be." You should be the stay at home mom who does hundreds of beautiful, creative crafts every day AND cooks meals from scratch from your organic garden AND dressed in trendy refashioned thrift store clothing that you sew yourself AND has a house that could be photographed for "Better Homes and Gardens" at a moments notice. If you do any less, you are a failure.

    I think your pinterest post sums up my point pretty handily.

    But when you think of the blogs that are kind of like what I described above, are those your favorite blogs? Would you read a book from those women? I, personally, would not. Now look at Girls Gone Child. I, personally, think this woman is an amazing writer. Because she writes about the joys of her life, which are many. But she also writes about the pressures of living in LA and having more than 2 kids and owning a non-fuel efficient car (apparently you are shunned for this in that city). She writes about body image issues and how to feel sexy after giving birth. And about how little things (like blogger changing formats) can just RUIN a day! And we can all relate because we've all had a day when something small has "ruined" it for us. It's her ability to talk about the mundane in life in a beautiful way that keeps me coming back every day.

    Anywho, I didn't mean to turn this into a novel, but to me it's not the NUMBER of struggles that an author has, but it IS about being able to share those struggles. Those imperfect moments. Those failures. And to do it in such a way that your reader says "YES! EXACTLY! It's like a window into my own soul."

    I wish you the best with your writing. Keep us in the loop!

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    Replies
    1. Cyn, thanks so much for putting the time and thought into this comment! I've thought about what you wrote pretty much nonstop! I even checked out Girls Gone Child AND was inspired to finally add content to LGM! Who knows where what I'll do next???

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  2. There are people you can inspire, entertain, teach and guide even if your experiences are totally different. When I was counseling I worried- how can I help someone who has encountered something I have not. I found it sometimes easier to bring an outside perspective as they didn't want my experience - they wanted help with THEIRS. Your talent will speak to those it's intended to - don't worry about who that may be. Write what you know/feel/beleieve/experience. The "fans" will follow.

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Oh how I L.O.V.E. comments! Thanks for taking a walk on the (koskersidle)WILD side :)