I have several favorite female authors, but the first one who comes to my mind is Anne Lamott. She has written some fiction but is especially well-known for her non-fiction; personal essays such as Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith, Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son’s First Year, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son (read my review of that book here), and her latest, Help, Thanks, Wow: the Three Essential Prayers. Her writing how-to, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, is in my opinion, a must read for any writer.
Lamott writes beautiful prose. She draws readers in through crystalline description. But what I love most about her writing is her willingness to share the most personal private details — the best, the bad, and the embarrassing – with her readers. She holds nothing back, but rather splays open her heart with a gut-wrenching honesty that would make most authors cringe. For Lamott, there would be no point in writing without such soul-baring sincerity.
In Bird by Bird, Lamott tells writers, You are going to have to give and give and give, or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. . . .We are wired as humans to be open to the world instead of enclosed in a fortified, defensive mentality. What your giving can do is to help your readers be braver, be better than they are, be open to the world again.”