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The Writing Life : Writers On How They Think And Work - Marie Arana

The Writing Life

Writers On How They Think And Work

Paperback Published: 7th May 2003
ISBN: 9781586481490
Number Of Pages: 426

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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.

Industry Reviews

Fat, juicy plums from the Washington Post Book World's long-running "Writing Life" column. Book World editor Arana launched her column in 1993 (Stanley Elkin was the first contributor) in the format it retains today: a few paragraphs of biography preceding an essay by the writer of the week on the practice of his or her craft. This collection, loosely organized around such themes as "On Becoming a Writer," "Raw Material," and "Hunkering Down," meanders through everything from practical advice to thoughts of childhood to vague but entertaining musings on a career. We begin with Francine du Plessix Gray's four central principles of writing, Joyce Carol Oates's pointed recollection of bullying and gender roles in childhood, and James Michener's advice on "how to identify and nurture young writers." Alice McDermott, Scott Turow, John Edgar Wideman, Anita Desai, and Julia Alvarez, et al., discuss the roots of their writing. Wendy Wasserstein gives specific instructions on how to get a hotel room and write for a New Year's deadline. Ray Bradbury recalls his long relationship with the movies. Though there is plenty of discussion of the writer's "self-doubt and wry paranoia," as Julian Barnes puts it in an intriguing piece about being literary executor of Dodie Smith's estate, most of the authors more or less comfortably accept that this is, in fact, the career that defines their lives. Challenges are myriad, of course: Michael Chabon fears that readers will too closely identify him with his protagonists (a homosexual, a frustrated author, a bad father), and according to Jimmy Carter, co-authoring Everything to Gain with wife Rosalynn almost broke up their 40-year marriage. A sprawling, addictive addition to a seemingly bottomless category that this month also includes the New York Times anthology Writers on Writing (see below). (Kirkus Reviews)

Introductionp. xiii
On Becoming a Writer
The Seduction of the Textp. 3
The Importance of Childhoodp. 11
Looking for the Sparkp. 19
How to Identify and Nurture Young Writersp. 25
Touched by an Angelp. 33
The Leap from Necessity to Inventionp. 39
A Real-Life Educationp. 46
Emerging from Under Your Rejection Slipsp. 52
Being a Product of Your Dwelling Placep. 58
Doing It for Lovep. 64
Raw Material
Too Happy for Wordsp. 73
Using My Father's Storyp. 78
Between Origins and Artp. 84
The Writer As Outlawp. 90
From Memory to the Imaginationp. 95
Can Whites Write About Blacks?p. 103
In Praise of Silencep. 111
Bicultural, Adrift, and Wanderingp. 118
On Finding a Latino Voicep. 126
Living in Irish, Writing in Englishp. 134
Hunkering Down
Holidays at the Keyboard Innp. 143
The Passionate Researcherp. 150
From Packrat to Historianp. 156
Climbing Into Another Headp. 162
Hunter of Metaphorsp. 168
Following the Scriptp. 178
Headbirths: Bookish Midwiferyp. 184
Guided by Voices: The Work of a Ghostwriterp. 194
Old Bottle, New Wine
From Will-of-the-Wisp to Full-Blown Novelp. 205
Reincarnation, Translation and Adventurep. 212
Master of My Universep. 221
Sounds and Sensibilitiesp. 228
Writer with Scalpelp. 235
A Chronicle of the Plague Yearsp. 242
On Being a Novice Playwrightp. 250
Acting Out, Letting Gop. 258
Pen Names Galorep. 264
Summer Litep. 270
Facing the Facts
History Is Their Beat: The New Journalist Historiansp. 279
A Novel Approach to Reality: Basing a Story in Factsp. 289
Making the Truth Believablep. 297
Describing the World As It Is, Not As It Would Bep. 304
The Political Memoir: Taking Note of Historyp. 312
President in Search of a Publisherp. 322
Biographer, Get a Lifep. 330
From the Clinicp. 338
Notes from the Roadp. 344
Natural Selectionsp. 351
Speaking Up for the Environmentp. 359
Looking Back
The Trouble with Finishingp. 367
The Hardest Criticsp. 373
Literary Executionsp. 380
Taking It All Backp. 387
Writer, Be Afraidp. 393
In Search of the Next Ideap. 399
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781586481490
ISBN-10: 1586481495
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 426
Published: 7th May 2003
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.3 x 13.4  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.45
Edition Number: 1