Anne Lamott

Overcoming Resistance

The War of Art  

A good conference is like a good cookbook, if you take away a couple of good ideas/recipes that you actually implement/make, then it was worth it. Don Miller's Storyline conference was a good conference. A lot of the speakers offered inspiration that landed with butterfly brevity and flitted away. A couple of things stuck. First Don mentioned an author and I wrote in my journal (Steve Pressville-vale?) Later in the conference binder I found a quote in print and learned that it is Steven Pressfield. And the book I might want to start with is The War of Art. I downloaded it on my Kindle and then started reading it this morning, right after calling Verizon about my damn phone plan, taking a break only to hand my daughter resumes I printed for her before a job interview, then finished it under some pressure from my dog whose pleading eyes made it clear that it was time for a walk.

Wow! It is an amazing distillation of my experience with resistance to the work of creation.  Inspiration is just one small aspect of the process and a fun distraction. This book is much more practical. I also laughed because as I read The War of Art I recognized it is another act of resistance: reading about writing instead of writing.

The first evening of Storylines Anne Lamott said the same thing: you have to put in the time. Write the shitty first draft. Revise. Write more.  When so many people who have actually produced a lot of great stuff you like to read say the same thing, they may be speaking the truth.

Pressfield's message broke through and is already making a difference. I recently made two commitments to myself: 1) to ride my bike for at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days, and 2) to write 5 days a week in the month of March.  When I finished the book I started to get sucked into the world wide web. My daughter called to tell me how her job interview went and I practically shouted, "Got time to meet me at the Cloud Forest Cafe for a coffee?" I leaped on my bike and raced into town with my computer. She shared her interview experience and then left me with my decaf, my computer and free wifi.

I slayed two small dragons this morning with one fell swoop.  Thanks Steven.

Hemingway's Writing Tips

Paris Wife

I love, love, love reading intuitively. I brought a stack of books to read on my writing retreat. I picked up Paula McClain's The Paris Wife and dove into the story of Hadley Richardson Hemingway and the Paris years. Soon I was planning my day around reading until I reached the bittersweet end.

This awakened an appetite to read Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, his memoir of the same period. I left a holiday party early to find it in a used bookstore. First, I stopped at Blake's Books, one of my favorite small bookstores in McKinleyville that offers new and used books. It was not in stock; however, I did find two memoirs by Madeleine L'Engle and Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions.  I may have the opportunity for her to sign a book in February and I have permanently loaned out all of her books from my library. I moved on to Arcata to the Tin Can used bookstore and found a tattered copy of Feast.

I have not read much of Hemingway's work--just those novels and short stories assigned in high school English classes. Often when I revisit these books without the torture of reading as an assignment with banal class discussions, I discover I like them. I never returned to Hemingway though, because his persona is a turn-off. Reading why Hadley loved him so rehabilitated him for me. I am enjoying Feast.

Added bonus: writing tips from Hemingway: "I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day." (p. 12) "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know." (p. 12) "...I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything."

Good advice from a disciplined writer.