Lamott compares the act of writing to the process of childbirth or the act of caring for another being, such as a puppy. Essentially, fiction should be treated with patience and respect. Lamott counsels compassion for the act and art of writing. She admits that writers will often hear the hostile jabber of KFKD—their own internal critics—but they must silence the voices as best they can. Lamott refers to God and the belief that God exists in all things—even in a frustrating novel or a difficult child. As parents care for children, so should writers care for their work.
Throughout the book, Lamott advocates simple solutions for complex problems. Some readers might view this pattern as simplistic, others as wise. For example: how do you start writing? Sit down and write. How do know what to write? Wait for the work to tell you. Lamott often advises writers to simply breathe. This advice is similar to practices associated with meditation or Zen Buddhism. The simplicity of her advice is also mirrored structurally in her direct, conversational tone and matter-of-fact anecdotes. Lamott values simplicity but not necessarily austerity. She saves her book from becoming too idealistic by pointing out the practical difficulties that arise even when writers take a simple approach.
Lamott describes accepting her own jealousy without preaching about kindness or acceptance. At the end of the chapter on jealousy, she even describes her jealousy as strangely “beautiful,” even though it is often incapacitating. Throughout the chapter, she recalls her efforts to deal with jealousy almost as if describing a spiritual quest. She also makes it clear that she has taken some space from her writing friend. This episode contains a mix of the spiritual and the practical, as does most of Lamott’s writing.
Lamott describes writers as people on the edge of society who look and record without getting swept away by excessive emotion. Good writers will view most events in life—good or bad—as “material.” Though Lamott does not directly reference Buddhist thought, she clearly considers the process of writerly observation to be spiritual in nature.