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Book The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work

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The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work.pdf | Language: UNKNOWN
    Marie Arana(Author)

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A dazzling collection of essays in which today's most celebrated writers explore their personal relationships with the literary life.

Featuring a gathering of more than fifty of contemporary literature's finest voices, this volume will enchant, move, and inspire readers with its tales of The Writing Life. In it, authors divulge professional secrets: how they first discovered they were writers, how they work, how they deal with the myriad frustrations and delights a writer's life affords. Culled from ten years of the distinguished Washington Post column of the same name, The Writing Life highlights an eclectic group of luminaries who have wildly varied stories to tell, but who share this singularly beguiling career. Here are their pleasures as well as their peeves; revelations of their deepest fears; dramas of triumphs and failures; insights into the demands and rewards.

Each piece is accompanied by a brief and vivid biography of the writer by Washington Post Book World editor Marie Arana who also provides an introduction to the collection. The result is a rare view from the inside: a close examination of writers' concerns about the creative process and the place of literature in America. For anyone interested in the making of fiction and nonfiction, here is a fascinating vantage on the writer's world--an indispensable guide to the craft.

Arana instituted the "Writing Life" column at the Washington Post Book World in 1993 shortly after assuming the editorial reins, and she collates here articles from several top names she's enlisted as contributors over the past decade. Her lavish introductions sometimes run nearly as long as the essays; after the buildup she provides Stanley Elkin, though, his vacuous rambling is a severe disappointment. There are other notable clunkers: James Michener recalls banal advice he has given aspiring writers, while Joanna Trollope's essay, though excellently written, says little more than that creative writing courses might be able to teach writing, but they can't teach creativity. But the best contributions make slogging through the worst worthwhile. Some of the better stories are already well known: Ray Bradbury's account of how he came to write the screenplay for Moby-Dick, for example, or Donald E. Westlake's story of the creation of the pseudonym Richard Stark for his hard-boiled novels. But there are new treasures to discover as well. Jane Smiley discusses why she disavows her most famous novel, A Thousand Acres: "I am no longer attracted to the dire mechanism of tragedy," while Julian Barnes turns in a droll account of his experience as literary executor for close friend Dodie Smith. Though some of the authors do pass on practical wisdom to would-be writers, this collection is ideally suited for those who want to enjoy the "literary life" vicariously. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Mary Higgins Clark to David Halberstam, 55 writers talk about where they get their ideas and how they make them into books. Some of the voices are flat, betraying the authors' discomfort with speaking publicly on matters of private inspiration. With others, there's a different problem: they've done this kind of thing so often they have little new to say. But many are brilliant. Julia Alvarez tells how she found her Latino voice when she read Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior (1976). Anita Desai writes movingly about being "bicultural, adrift, and wandering." Ray Bradbury is exuberant about the inspiration he finds in movies, Shakespeare, and Melville. The essays first appeared in the Washington Post Book World over the last 10 years, and best of all are editor Marie Arana's introductions. Sometimes better than the writers' self-conscious pieces, her lively, highly readable, fairly lengthy bios capture each subject's essence and make you want to read their books. Keep this on hand for book discussion groups. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Book details

  • PDF | 432 pages
  • Marie Arana(Author)
  • PublicAffairs; 1 edition (May 7, 2003)
  • Unknown
  • 7
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Bernard Chapin on February 11, 2007

    I agree that one can find writing inspiration in these pages. Studying the mechanics and practices of other writers is always enjoyable and enlightening. Sometimes one can find tricks and short cuts to emulate which then enhance one's own work, and that is certainly the case with The Writing Life. The problem that I had with it is due to its selection bias. In my opinion, it chronicled far too many journalists as opposed to outstanding writers. Many of the individuals are not people one considers to be luminaries at all. I picked up The Paris Review's Interviews book which is more satisfying in this regard. Obviously though, this text isn't devoid of value, but it depends on what you wish to use it for.

  • By P P Metts on July 25, 2016

    Fast shipping. Great book

  • By Kindle Customer on December 13, 2012

    I love reading other authors' takes on "the writing life" and how they cope with or find inspiration from daily life to continue nurturing their creativity, motivation, and changing goals. This book surprised me with an extremely varied mix of writing advice and insight.From dealing with publishers and the importance of self-marketing to dealing with the slack you get for your chosen genre not being as academically accepted or how to maintain a personal life along with your career...the authors in this collection cover it all. There's enough here to touch on any aspect of writing you may be dealing with or thinking about and will, no doubt, include many surprises you haven't realized you do need more information about.Reading the collection introduced me to new authors, some with writing styles I fell in love with and intend to read more from, and made me think about so many aspects of the art of writing that I've since realized keys for improving my own novel and new directions I want to go in in my own career.This is the perfect gift for any writer you know...even if you have no idea what their own writing style or interests are. You'll make a better writer of them.

  • By P. Laster on January 31, 2012

    Reading the eight reviews already written, I was struck by two things: one, how someone could read this book in two evenings, and two, the Memphis reviewer who wrote, and I quote, "So if you're an older writer, I'd pass. But younger writers, grab hold, and mine it for what it's worth to learn about your own process." Boo and hiss!! I'm an older writer but fairly new to writing, having been a music major and enjoyed a music career. How dare she? Perhaps she meant experienced, famous, already-knows-it-all older writers. I guess I'll forgive her.Speaking of age, many, many of the writers in this collection are older!!Ward Just is my age; Nadine Gordimer is waaay older, as are many of the essayists/writers/journalists/historians/scientists. But age is not the crux of this helpful volume. The differences (yet all in the same discipline:writing) in approach, in preparation, in process, and in the aftermath show the tremendous variety in this delightful world of writing.Back to the reader who feasted two evenings on this book: I began January 6 and finished January 31. However, my favorite reading times were from 10-ish to midnight. And most nights, I made notes in my journal and underlined many places in the book to return to.Marie Arana herself is as good as the writers she spotlights. For my next novel, I will study her interviewer's style and try to instill her strengths into my protagonist. Highly recommended. I will not loan this one out. Thank you, Breezy.

  • By C.A.Lutes on December 30, 2016

    I like reading about the habits and workings of other writers. I think in many cases it gives a context to the ones who produce books that we love. Also it helps those who are writing to have heart about their own habits.

  • By Dianne Foster on September 4, 2005

    Over the years, I've read 'The Writing Life' segment found in many a Washington Post "Book World" section. Last spring, a writing instructor assigned Arana's collection of these articles for our outside class reading. I was pleased to find many of the articles I had previously enjoyed plus plenty I had not read combined in one volume, thus allowing me to purge the accordian file folder where I store such items.Arana has selected some of the best pieces for her volume, and prefaced each with a short introduction of the author. In some cases I reread segments by favorite authors, and in other cases I had never read the author.One author I've been meaning to try is Barbara Mertz. Haven't heard of her? She writes under the pen name Elizabeth Peters, and is the author of the the tales of the exploits of Amelia Peabody-Emerson, archeologist and sleuth. Now, I had thought about reading Peters, but had not done so because I have been trying to curb a hopeless addiction to mysteries and force myself to read things that "improved my mind." Peters, i.e. Mertz, says at age 60, she figures her mind "is about as good as it's going to get" and that statement and others she wrote made me laugh. Being from a long line of folks suffering from a bad case of the "Protestant ethic" I've always needed permission to have fun, and now that I am 63 I have it.I read my first Peters novel (reviewed elsewhere) and ordered 6-7 more. Is this frivoluous, you bet. Will I keep it up, Hopefully!!

  • By Susanne Carlisle on January 1, 2009

    As a writing major, (non-fiction, U of Memphis), I find myself searching out the lives of writers as much as exploring their work. We writers are geared that way. This book is essentially helpful if you are towards the beginning of your career and are very curious about how other writers work. It's a good book to put in the stack on your bedside table and to read a piece every once in a while. I especially liked the entries by Ray Bradbury (who gets up at 3:30 in the morning, writes, laughs at it, and then goes back to bed) and David McCullough (read as much as he could of what John Adams read. Said it was impossible to read it all). It lends validity to the ideas you have of how best you write--alone? In a cafe? Longhand? With a typewriter? In your mother's basement with the lights out and night vision goggles? And in the establishment of a writing career, that's no small thing.So if you're an older writer, I'd pass. But younger writers, grab hold, and mine it for what it's worth to learn about your own process.


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