TWQ Mini with Anne Lamott: “The way you were is probably the way you are”
In this mini episode of The Write Question, host Lauren Korn sits down with author Anne “Annie” Lamott to talk about her seminal book on the craft of writing (and living), Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Anchor Books), and about maintaining hope—during the writing process, yes, but also in a time of climate crisis and during political and social upheaval.
Anne Lamott will be in conversation with Jane Karas at the Waccholz College Center in Kalispell on January 31, 2022. You can purchase tickets to that event here.
Anne Lamott writes and speaks about subjects that begin with capital letters: Alcoholism, Motherhood, Jesus. But armed with self-effacing humor—she is laugh-out-loud funny—and ruthless honesty, Lamott converts her subjects into enchantment. Actually, she writes about what most of us don’t like to think about. She wrote her first novel for her father, the writer Kenneth Lamott, when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. She has said that the book was “a present to someone I loved who was going to die.” In all her novels, she writes about loss—loss of loved ones and loss of personal control. She doesn’t try to sugar-coat the sadness, frustration and disappointment, but tells her stories with honesty, compassion and a pureness of voice. As she says, “I have a lot of hope and a lot of faith and I struggle to communicate that.” Anne Lamott does communicate her faith; in her books and in person, she lifts, comforts, and inspires, all the while keeping us laughing.
Anne Lamott is the author of seven novels and several bestselling books of non-fiction, including, Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year; Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son; and the classic book on writing, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Her most recent book is Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage.
Anne Lamott recommends:
Books written by George Saunders, especially A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life (Penguin Random House)
The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton (HarperCollins)
Lauren Korn recommends:
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (Scribner)
The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing by Richard Hugo (W. W. Norton & Company)
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr (HarperCollins)
Artful by Ali Smith (Penguin Random House)
The Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver (Ecco)
The Write Question team for this episode was Lauren Korn, host, co-producer, and editor; and Chris Moyles, co-producer and sound engineer.
The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at iamthemollruss.com and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.
Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.
The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.