Wisdom From Anne

Anne Lamott is a novelist, essayist, and frequent contributor to Salon.com. Some people don’t like her – she is definitely not shy about expressing her opinions. I don’t agree with everything she says, but I admire her greatly, not only for her wonderful book on writing (Bird by Bird), but also for her wit, thoughtfulness, and honesty when talking about life in general. She gives me hope that I can find a way through my own problems.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Anne Lamott:

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

― Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”


“This is one thing they forget to mention in most child-rearing books, that at times you will just lose your mind. Period. ”

― Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith


“You can get the monkey off your back, but the circus never leaves town”

― Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith


“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”

― Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith


“Expectations are resentments under construction.”


“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”

― Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.”

― Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


“Life is like a recycling center, where all the concerns and dramas of humankind get recycled back and forth across the universe. But what you have to offer is your own sensibility, maybe your own sense of humor or insider pathos or meaning. All of us can sing the same song, and there will still be four billion different renditions.”


“Never compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides.”


“I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me–that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”

― Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

This last quote is the one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I see a lot of people who seem to be very certain. They’re certain about where they’re going and how to get there. They’re certain about the next step. But I think maybe being certain locks you in a box. If you are certain, you do not entertain the thought that there are other possibilities. Maybe you’re right, who knows. But maybe, just possibly, you’re not COMPLETELY right all of the time. And maybe that’s okay.

I wish you the joy of uncertainty.



  1. Hello Betsy! I tracked you down.

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @FF: Fake Frenchie! There you are! I’ve missed you! I’ve been playing on the new eHarlequin site, but I haven’t seen you. Of course, I’m still getting used to the setup so I’m probably looking in the wrong place. 😀

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