Lamott’s tendency to make points through obtuse stories is in full effect in this section. She compares the false starts to an artist she knows who covers over their work with white paint every time they make a mistake or get sidetracked on what they try to paint. Lamott has her own story of finding the way through a false start when she began volunteering at the retirement home her church is affiliated with. Over the course of her time helping the elderly, Lamott began to see pass the misery of living in a home to the deeper meaning underneath, like her artist friend who seeks the painting he wants in layers of white.
Lamott tells one of her most powerful stories in this chapter, about the book that didn’t go anywhere. Her second novel was having trouble being published, her editor loved every aspect accept that it didn’t have any real direction. She tried a number of methods to beat out the ending of the book, laying each section end to end over the floor, drunkenly ranting her intentions to the editor, and even leaving the country to seek inspiration overseas. And in the end, it worked. She wrote out the book bird by bird and made her most successful novel to date. The tenacity to see the story through made the Polaroid develop.
How Do You Know When You’re Done?
A very short section, Lamott say that “done” is not a blissful thing. It is not a moment of smug self-satisfaction at the end of the day. It is when the last word is written and there’s nothing else to do. It isn’t a sense of completion, it is a sense of done.
These last three sections will be made into one discussion, as they reach the culmination of Lamott’s ideas in this chapter and how they relate to the theorists. The steps described all come back to that same expressive, process oriented well that the rest of the book draws from. As will be discussed in later chapters, Lamott’s ideas and beliefs remain steady as they continue to be revealed throughout the book. As such, the conclusion of this section will be to take the ideas of the mind that come from Harris, Anson, Fulkerson, Flower, and Hayes and apply them to the heart, as Lamott does. Creative writing might differ in many ways from academic writing, but they both stem from the same composition. The formal studies and this informal book can both come together to expand the horizons of those who study and produce writing.