We don't have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not go in to.When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in -- then we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment.

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In the 35 years since her first novel was published, Lamott has approached guru status. Le Guin or Stephen King — that everyone pays attention to. Small Victories (Riverhead) is a collection for anyone who has ever faced a challenge in life, from terminal disease to the loss of a beloved dog, difficult parental relationships to online dating. While the subject matter may sound depressing, the essays are anything but, as Lamott moves through these situations with her characteristic humor and grace.

Not content with the wisdom contained within the pages of the collection, we sat down with Lamott at the start of her book tour to discuss how her recent work has come together, her thoughts on online dating, and her advice for new writers.

On that book tour I used the phrase “Help, thanks, wow” and my publisher, who’s not at all spiritual was really taken and he said, “I want a cup of that.” So I ended up writing Help, Thanks, Wow.

Then there were the shootings at Sandy Hook, and I was just stopped in my tracks, more than I was even with 9/11. I have a little one at home, a grandchild, and I have a Sunday School class of young kids, and I just felt like, how can I keep telling them that they are loved and safe when 20 of their colleagues got mowed down by another crazy person with a gun?

You hear the name Anne Lamott, and you know whatever's coming from her next is going to be impactful. Lamott is the author of seven novels, and her non-fiction has examined the birth of her son, the birth of her grandson, her thoughts on writing, and her faith.

Her most recent work — Help, Thanks, Wow; Stitches; and now Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace — have focused on her faith, her thoughts on coping with tragedy, and celebrating our victories over life's many challenges.

ANNE LAMOTT, You fall so deeply in love with your grandbaby.

It's so so so much easier than being a parent, because you really don't have much responsibility.

They like to think that they are “closest to Buddhism,” and “open to the magic that is all around us.” They are “people-people.” They are “open-minded and welcome all viewpoints.” They are rarely seeking religious nuts like myself — rather, they are seeking open, non-judgmental women. We went out four times in rapid succession, for coffee, lunches, a hike.