An Open Letter to Anne Lamott


I’m not the kind of person to write fan mail or open letters.


I always feel really silly trying to. Maybe because I know myself well enough to know that while I would pretend not to care about what the author would think of the contents, I would.


Or maybe because I think I don’t need to send fan mail in the hopes that one day I will meet the authors that I look up to face to face and finally be able to thank them. Of course that being said, I get terribly star struck around authors that I admire and would probably not be able to say more than two words to them.

All that being said, I don’t want to write fan mail there are a couple things that I wanted to say.


This summer I was interning in Pittsburgh, Penn., and I was walking downtown after work. I was wasting time while waiting for my mom to get out of a meeting. It was the one day that it felt like the South while I was there. I was wearing heels and a dress as the sweat dripped down my back.


I was just looking for somewhere go inside to escape the heat and the sun that kept reflecting of the high rise windows. I walked across the street and there was this small dark bookstore. I went inside in the hopes that I could escape the heat.


I was wrong. There was no air conditioning. There was a small fan in the back of the store. I went to stand in front of that fan and proceeded to look extremely interested in the fiction authors with the last name starting with I-N. I tried to look as busy as possible.


As I was intently skimming each title in the section just to stand in the fan, my eyes ran across a name that I recognized, Anne Lamott. I had encountered her name twice before.


I remembered back to early high school, when I was just starting to discover that I liked writing and had started reading “Bird by Bird.” It was in this book that I soon found my favorite poem, “We Who are Your Closest Friends” by Phillip Lopate. Ever since then, the book had stuck in my head.


The second time I had heard her name was at a Christian ministry on Campus called RUF. Our leader had read an excerpt from Lamott’s book, “Grace Eventually.” I remember barely listening at the beginning of the Large Group session instead focusing on the rain that was audible through the walls. It was that excerpt that drew me back into the message.


But as I hadn’t been paying attention at the beginning that day, I missed the title of the book the excerpt had come from. I was too nervous to ask someone what it had been because then I would have been admitting that I hadn’t been paying attention.  So the only thing I heard that day was her name.


So as I am standing in the bookstore with back sweat, I pick up the book and try to flip through it to see if I can find that one excerpt that had been read. I did.  


So, I bought the book used for $8 dollars, which seems now like it cost too little for what it ended up meaning to me. Inside the front cover a reader had signed and dated the book back to when she read it in 2007. I added my name below now 11 years later.


Reading through the book, I was surprised at how much of the book I related to. I didn’t share all of the beliefs that Lamott did. Nor did I share the same life experiences. Yet, as I began to read I realized that the only thing that mattered was the resounding truthfulness and honesty throughout the narrative.


The book didn’t preach and there was no “I have got it all figured out.”  The book was real. There was something in it that was relatable. My point in sharing this is sure to encourage you to read the book.

Yet it is also to say thank you. Thank you for reminding me that my craziness is not new and unique. That it fits in with the rest of the messy world. And thank you for finding the words where I could not to express some of the things that bounce around in my head.


For me this book worked like a novel. Capturing you into the world that you want to live in with the delightful twist that it is real.