ADVICE ON WRITING

As Anne Lamott turns 61, she published a reflective post on Facebook. The whole post is worth a read, but I found this bit to be especially poignant:

Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.

IN DEFENSE OF THE EVERYDAY

photo credit: K8monster1 via photopin cc

photo credit: K8monster1 via photopin cc

There’s something to be said for celebrating the everyday. Several writers and artists have based their works on that very idea: that there is value in highlighting the common–the ties that bind us rather than those that make us exceptional.

Why, then, are we as writers so preoccupied with chasing down the next huge story? Or worse, rehashing those stories to the point of sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher? “Wah wah wah, I covered the same story everyone else did, proving my legitimacy as a writer, wah wah waaahhh!”

Where are the stories about everyday folks? I’m not talking about the “Fort Wayne Famous” people whose names and faces fill the lime light time and time again. I’m talking about people like your neighbor, your kid’s teacher, the woman volunteering at the Embassy Theatre every weekend–it’s those stories that inspire us and reinforce our sense of community.

Reality is constructed through our representations of life in art, culture, and words. If we’re ignoring the everyday, that representation isn’t very realistic, is it?

Now, this isn’t another prescription for “Write what you know.” Rather it is a call to celebrate the stories we may not otherwise hear because they weren’t “high profile” enough. A hidden gem is still a gem, beautiful and captivating. It just takes a little work to unearth it.