Writing, Tulips and Anne Lamott

Help! The Internet is swallowing me whole!

Andrew eating tulip

The internet is a vast sea of voices. I see it like a huge tulip field sprawling in front of me. Each tulip blooms in different stage of growth, each one calling out for attention. Social media and online magazines give some of the tulips power in numbers, grouping some together with a vague semblance of structure. A few of the individual tulips are a different color, really showy and bright and eye-catching. They get the most eyeballs. The rest are pretty average, saying similar things, copying one another. Most people scan it quickly and with their eyes and minds digest one or two of the brightest tulips and move on. The rest are left to anonymity and hard labor.

Photo Credit Andrew Cheung

Photo Credit Andrew Cheung

After only two months of wandering through the WWW of writing, this is the image that I get. When I do research to begin writing an article, one click leads to another and another and another and before I know it, my brain is completely overloaded with research and I realize that I have never had an original thought in the history of mankind.

Photo Credit Solomon Hsu

Photo Credit Solomon Hsu

It feels a little bit like teaching preschoolers or praying or gardening or just doing the daily grind — you scatter what seeds you can, and then you wait for God to bring in the harvest. In fact, the clearest parallel is probably with sharing your faith. You keep praying and sowing seeds and trusting God and in spite of your weakness, your averageness, your lack of talent, ability, flair, He makes the seeds to grow in His time because He is God and that’s just how He rolls.

So I keep trudging along, putting up my miniscule blog posts and praying that someone out there draws closer to God because of my miniscule efforts. Clickety-clack, one keyboard key at a time.

And reading Anne Lamott makes me want to write. Not to be a writer, but to write.To spin crazy, amazing, mind-blowing things out of thin air. To string words together in a way that when you read them, you feel like someone is sticking their hand straight into your chest, grabbing your heart and squeezing with all their might.


Sorry for the caps. It won’t happen again. But it’s a miracle to me, how Anne Lamott does it. She describes exactly what you feel and what you think, before you even know that you are feeling or thinking it. And she is so mercilessly accurate. She puts her finger on truth — her finger or her thumb — I’m not exactly sure which one — and then it’s as if that finger or thumb lights up. The glow shines on very simple stuff, the stuff of everyday life. And the ordinary suddenly becomes magical.

Great writing is like great cooking. No matter what’s in the fridge, an amazing chef can take the humblest of raw materials and whip up a gourmet meal with no recipe and sheer genius.

A great writer does the same, but with ideas and with words.


What have you been reading and writing lately? (click the little plus icon below-right to comment)



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2 comments on “Writing, Tulips and Anne Lamott
  1. I don’t necessarily agree with all of her political opinions and theology, but she is just so honest and adept with imagery and emotions. I just read Grace (eventually) and I loved it!

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