Last night I went to Symphony Space in NYC with my friends Suzanne and Christie to hear Anne Lamott speak about writing and her new book on prayer, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Annie was so sweet she signed every book everyone brought or bought there, plus posed for photos. You'd think you were over at her house, just having coffee.
Seeing an author in person, for me, is more like seeking confirmation that an author's inner life matches or shines through their outward being. I once saw Octavia Butler at a booksigning, and when I asked her a question, she made me feel like a bug. I mean, the woman's genius was off the planet. But Annie had patience with folks. (We're in a picture together, so I feel like I can call her Annie now, at least here.) One woman at a microphone didn't ask a question; she just wanted to thank Annie for inspiring her and giving her the hutzpah to be a writer herself. Since she didn't have a question to answer, Annie then talked for a spacious 5 -7 minutes about being a writer and some experiences she's had and a good small story. Annie is really good at the small story with the big spiritual shoe drop at the end.
Another woman who asked a question copped to being clergy. One my friends who went with me is also a UCC minister. Made me wish Annie had taken a poll, asked us to raise our hands. But then I think being called a theologian scares the shit out of her. She just likes to write about the big questions with her one small life. Thanks, Anne Lamott, for all your help. And...wow.