If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive. ~ Anne Lamott 

She’s right, you know. It is Anne Lamott, after all! 

If we had found these sentences in Scripture we would have taken them to be prescriptive advice for exactly what we should do, exactly how we should behave, exactly what is required. No questions asked. 

Let’s assume Anne Lamott’s voice to be Sacred Writ.

Let’s follow her advice, her mandate, her template for writing…maybe even life.

Let’s review: 

  • Risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. 
  • Write toward vulnerability. 
  • Risk being unliked. 
  • Tell the truth as you understand it. 

Can I get an Amen?!? 

do try to do this in my writing (over and over again). Yes, the writing you see here, but first and foremost in the writing I do for myself.

When I “write toward vulnerability,” I don’t always like what I see, what is revealed on the lines and in between them. And for this, I am profoundly grateful. Something revoluationary and subversive is at work.

When I see the mess and the frustration and the imperfection, I recognize that now, finally, I am telling the truth. 

Anne Lamott says If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this.

As humans we have a moral obligation to do this: to tell our truth. Emotional. Vulnerable. Sometimes even unlikable. As we understand it. And yes, often messy and frustrating and imperfect. Maybe even revolutionary and subversive! 

More of that, please!



A postscript (or prompt): When I first saw the words write toward vulnerability, I interpreted them literally. Like writing to vulnerability – a letter, an email, a sonnet, an epistle. ‘Might be worth trying – even if messy, frustrating, imperfect, and unlikable. And revoluationary. And subversive. Just a thought…