Prompt: Do you have a favorite quote you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?
Here’s a small behind-the-scenes tale of what it’s like to write a book.
When I wrote my book, I frequently returned to one quote when I started to panic. (And I panicked often.) One quote that reminded me I wasn’t crazy for writing a memoir. It’s from Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird–not incidentally, the book that first made me think I could actually write. Lamott writes: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
Writing a memoir about five men breaking my heart, and about my own struggle to make peace with the tenuous balance of my faith and marital status, wasn’t something I took lightly, and I often struggled with how much of those stories I should tell. But revisiting that Lamott quote reminded me that these things happened, they happened to me, and maybe–just maybe–those stories were actually quite universal.
If I’d known more about the publishing world and the business of copyright, I would’ve sought Lamott’s permission for that quote to serve as the epigraph for my book. That’s how vital her words are to me.
It’s still a quote I return to many days when I’m struggling to write, because of its simple admonition: tell your stories.