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This blog was featured on 10/31/2018
Anne Lamott on Hope, Hate & Finding Time for the Good Things in Life
Written by
She Writes
October 2018
Written by
She Writes
October 2018

Anne Lamott is the New York Times-bestselling author of seven novels and 11 works of nonfiction. She’s also a regular public speaker, writing instructor, activist, and Sunday school teacher. Her biweekly blog “Word by Word” on Salon Magazine is somewhat of an online diary, and was voted Best of the Web by TIME magazine. She is even the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Freida Mock called, Bird by Bird with Annie (1999). Needless to say, Anne Lamott is beloved by readers and has inspired thousands with her poignant and humorous works on commanding topics such as alcoholism, motherhood and Jesus.

She is known to some as a religious writer – for her books on prayer such as Help Thanks Wow, Hallelujah Anyway, and Traveling Mercies, to name a few. But she prefers to think of her works as spiritual, with an “unsophisticated theology” that is rooted in humanism over Christianity.

Her latest book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, is out this month, and contains her latest collection of essays.

"I am stockpiling antibiotics for the Apocalypse, even as I await the blossoming of paperwhites on the windowsill in the kitchen," Anne Lamott admits at the beginning of Almost Everything. Despair and uncertainty surround us: in the news, in our families, and in ourselves. But even when life is at its bleakest – when we are, as she puts it, "doomed, stunned, exhausted, and over-caffeinated" – the seeds of rejuvenation are at hand. "All truth is paradox," Lamott writes, "and this turns out to be a reason for hope. If you arrive at a place in life that is miserable, it will change." That is the time when we must pledge not to give up but "to do what Wendell Berry wrote: 'Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.'"

On Writing Almost Everything:

“I try to write the books I would love to come upon, that are honest, concerned with real lives, human hearts, spiritual transformation, families, secrets, wonder, craziness – and that can make me laugh," she has been quoted as saying. "When I am reading a book like this, I feel rich and profoundly relieved to be in the presence of someone who will share the truth with me, and throw the lights on a little, and I try to write these kinds of books. Books, for me, are medicine.”

A constant theme in Lamott’s messaging is positivity. She does this through humor, through her self-deprecating style of writing, and through the exhibition of her own raw sense of hope.

“After my book on mercy in early 2016, Hallelujah Anyway, I felt like I was done for a while, that I had said everything I knew about divine love and grace and the precious community. But then, in late 2016, all of life changed, radically, for the much more scary. And on the one hand, I saw the people I love most move into despair and fear and hopelessness - and of course, I felt these too, sometimes.

But if I remembered grace, and divine love, goodness, laughter as holiness, and precious community, I was filled with hope, that we will come through, that grace bats last. So I set out to share, through my writing, almost everything I know that gives me hope, because hope is medicine, and water, buoyancy, and the way home.”

This excerpt was originally published on Shondaland. Read the full interview here.

On Finding Time:

“Turn off Twitter,” she says. “And don’t clean the house. That’s what it takes to create the rich life you deserve.”

“I sometimes teach classes on writing, during which I tell my students every single thing I know about the craft and habit," says Lamott. “This takes approximately 45 minutes. I begin with my core belief – and the foundation of almost all wisdom traditions – that there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.

Then I bring up the bad news: You have to make time to do this.”

This excerpt was originally published on Sunset. Read the full interview here.

On Hate, Healing & Humanity:

In addition to speaking engagements, Lamott has a powerful social media presence in which she holds steadfast to her truth and to empowering others with grace and healing.

“Everywhere I’ve spoken on tour, people in the audience speak out about how terrible their hate feels, and this is where healing begins,” she says on Twitter.

“My insight is that we are a dangerous species. Cain is still killing Abel, and at the same time, paradoxically, we are as vulnerable as kittens. (There is also a chapter in the hope book about how all truth is paradox.) So yeah, we get scared, and we blame, and we judge, and we bask in our self-righteous victimization. And we are all, even Dick Cheney, and EVEN (I think) Ted Cruz, precious children of God, with equal standing in the family of mankind and womankind. God loves Mitch McConnell exactly as much as he loves my little grandson. That’s called the mystery of grace.”

“I believe, against all odds, that if we stick together, take care of the poor and the very old, get thirsty people water, including our own worried self-obsessed selves, we can dramatically reduce our viral load. We can be Love with skin on. We can be present in barbaric times, and at the same time be nourished by the gorgeous and inspiring things all around us. We can be free.”

Anne Lamott originally published this excerpt on her Facebook page. Read her full post here.  

Photo Credit: Anne Lamott

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  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Beautiful and inspiring! I became acquainted with Anne Lamotte through reading "Operating Instructions" when I was carrying my daughter. I didn't want to stop at that, but to become immersed in her world of hope, grace, and love. The next book of hers that I read was "Traveling Mercies" with a book group. I put down most reading for myself while my daughter and I have been home-schooling. Now it's time to pick her up again. Good to see I can do that with "Almost Everything: Notes on Hope."