I first read Anne Lamott when I was in college. I was a scared, heartbroken, anorexic young woman and I hadn’t a clue that I wanted to be a writer yet. All I knew was that I was lost, confused, and insecure.
But somewhere within Ms. Lamott’s poetic words, I found peace and inspiration. I found confidence and health. I found myself and the me that I wanted to be.
I adored her writing style. I admired her honesty, authenticity, and practical optimism. I still do. In her books, she admits her shortcomings and thanks God for helping her find a way. She makes no apologies for who or what she is, and instead flaunts herself as a flawed and brazenly pragmatic believer. She does not hide; she does not pretend.
Oh, how I wanted to be like that. How want to be like that.
For much of my life, I have hidden from and within myself, guarding myself from the judgment of others. And nowhere is this more true than in matters of the heart, of the soul. In some circles, I pretend that I am not a person of faith for fear that I will be labeled as one of “those believers.” In other circles, I hide my skeptical, non-Christian faith for fear that I will be label as one of “those nonbelievers.”
And all of that hiding and pretending has left me where, exactly?
Lost, alone, and confused, that’s where.
Until now, that is.
Maybe it’s maturity. Or maybe it’s finally learning who I am and what I stand for. Or maybe it’s that I am just so tired of hiding and pretending. Whatever the reason, I no longer feel the need to be anything other than what I am.
I will admit, though, that this newfound self-acceptance hasn’t exactly diminished my desire to fit in. Don’t we all just want to feel a sense of belonging? To really know that we are in the right place, with the right people?
As I continue to write more on my blog (and, by extension, in my books), I try find my voice and “my people.” I yearn to find a community of writers and readers who seek human connection, Grace, community, and reverence without clear definitions and attachments, without easy answers and catchphrases.
The more I write, the clearer my voice becomes, but, oddly, the harder it seems for my voice to be heard. As any blogger or writer will tell you, finding the right community and niche is essential. But finding it? That’s the hard part.
As I struggle to find my place, my little corner in this writing and blogging world, I often find myself wondering: What is the point of any of this? Is anyone reading? Does anyone care? Does any of this make one bit of a difference? Why does this matter?
But then I remember Anne Lamott and her reassurance in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life that it does matter. That writing matters. Writing matters “because of the spirit…Because of the heart. Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.”
So regardless of whether my blog has thousands of followers or a mere handful, I can be certain of one thing: Writing feeds the soul; writing feeds my soul.
Even if I am forever searching for a few more friends to share a meal with me.