Set Designs

Over the course of the book the reader learns about Lamott’s legion of friends and associates, both writer and not. She encourages the reader to form their own vast network, not just to fight off the crippling anxiety of composition, but also to serve as a support network for things they do not know. She tells the story about how she made friends with a professional gardener, learning all she could about the practice though she could never keep a plant alive for longer than a month. She would spend hours discussing the finer points in garden care, design, and creation, not for her own sake, but to get an authentic set piece for a story. If writing is to be a reflection of life, then it must be a genuine as possible, so make friends in all walks and lean on them for answers when needed.

Stepping away from the previously discusses authors, this section of the chapter poses several similarities to Joseph Harris’ piece “The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing”. Throughout the book, but very prominently here, Lamott refers to her “legion” of writer friends and various other associates in different professions. In Harris’ writings, he sees the word “community” as detrimental to academia, saying that the heavy positive subtexts it carries can make it “soon become an empty and sentimental word” (pg. 13). For Harris, this comes from the fact that academia is often closed off and separated by time and space. What is interesting about Lamott’s creative writing community, is that she uses it as a tool thanks to the age she lives in and the field she works in. In later sections of the book, she encourages her readers to seek critique from their peers and make the same use of community that she does. Where the academic Harris fears that “community” will become a meaningless buzz word, the creative Lamott sees it as a tool, the constant use of which keeps it relevant and full of meaning.


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