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Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay [Kindle Edition]

Adair Lara
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $6.00 (38%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The material is right there in front of you. You’ve known yourself for, well, a lifetime—and you finally feel ready to share your story with the world. Yet when it actually comes time to put pen to paper, you find that you’re stumped.
Enter Adair Lara: award-winning author, seasoned columnist, beloved writing coach, and the answer to all of your autobiographical quandaries. 

Naked, Drunk, and Writing is the culmination of Lara’s vast experience as a writer, editor, and teacher. It is packed with insights and advice both practical (“writing workshops you pay for are the best--it’s too easy to quit when you’ve made no investment”) and irreverent (“apply Part A [butt] to Part B [chair]”), answering such important questions as:
• How do I know where to start my piece and where to end it?
• How do I make myself write when I’m too scared or lazy or busy?
• What makes a good pitch letter, and how do I get mine noticed?
• I’m ready to publish—now where do I find an agent?
• If I show my manuscript to my mother, will I ever be invited to a family gathering again?

As thorough and instructive as a personal writing coach (and cheaper, too), Naked, Drunk, and Writing is a must-have if you are an aspiring columnist, essayist, or memoirist—or just a writer who needs a bit of help in getting your story told.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


“Very savvy and smart and hugely entertaining.”
--ANNE LAMOTT, author of Bird by Bird

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Adair Lara's essays have been anthologized upwards of fifty times.

Product Details

  • File Size: 412 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 158008480X
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (August 31, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E8AIX4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,573 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Write Now! May 5, 2009
There is one big difference between this book and the other numberous books I own on this topic. The difference is that Adair deals with the number one problem with writers -- they will do anything they can to actually not write. As Adair says, "writing is scary. It always will be." This book shows the reader how to actually "apply butt to chair" and get started. One of her more helpful hints is the exercise to write 500 words a day. It doesn't have to be good but it does have to be 500 words and it does have to be every day. Writers write. Everyday. I love her exercises that help you get going. Each chapter has a Try This exercise -- for example:
Write about your closet. Write about the contents of your purse. Once you get started, you will be surprised that you most likely have gone over your 500 word goal. Of course Adair deals with all the elements of writing and refining essays and memoirs as well as sumbitting your work for publication.
Naked, Drunk and Writing, what more could you ask for.......
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Next Best Thing to a Writing Class June 1, 2009
I have been writing for many years and have read way too many books about writing when I should have been writing. Most books give you a few pointers that may or may not be helpful. This one is like sitting in a well taught class on essay and memoir. Lara answers the burning questions of all memoirists, and she does it in a voice and tone that make you believe she is your best friend from high school. Her advice is dead on, her tone encourages without forgetting that writing is hard damn work. This book shows you how to make that hard work result in something you'll be proud to submit to an editor. It's now sitting next to "Bird by Bird" on my writing shelf.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid advice for any level of writer September 16, 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is definitely a book you cannot judge by its cover nor its title.
As a San Francisco Bay Area local, I enjoyed Adair Lara's columns in the Chronicle. Tuesday and Thursday started with a delicious dose of her wit and insight. So when I saw her name in my Vine list, I clicked on Send before even reading the book description.
Adair has written a guide to craft personal essays and memoirs, the relatively new literary category of creative non-fiction. She starts with clarifying what a personal essay entails. It has a goal, a struggle, an epiphany and a description of the changes that epiphany wrought. It is not about your ugly divorce but about how the ugly divorce freed you to become a divorce attorney. Do not be a victim: you will lose your readership.
She gives very practical advice that still leaves plenty of room for your own process and personality. Instead of insisting that the reader do exercises, she has little inserts entitled "Try this!" Her hints are in gray boxes for The Crafty Writer.
Among the techniques covered are the story arc and the beats of emotion through the story, expansion of sentences in the critical sections and the briefness necessary for the setup scenes.
Throughout the book, she includes quotes from her students, other writer friends, and published authors. The disadvantage of using her students is that we are left with a protagonist sitting in a wheelchair at the entrance to a hospital during a snow storm. The snow drifts up in the corners of the portico and under his feet. We never find out what happened and we don't know the author to track down the story. Adair, are you listening?
Speaking of her students, those who have taken her workshop and pushed their work in the real world have had success.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memoir Course in a Book October 11, 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let's get the bad news quickly out of the way: My review copy was an advanced reader copy (ARC) and was loaded with typos. Let's hope these were fixed for the final draft.

Here's the good news: Adair Lara covers everything you need to know to write a memoir. I'm currently taking a memoir-writing class at Grub Street, in Boston, and this book includes pretty much everything we're covering in class (and then some). Lara writes about the necessity for narrative conflict, about perspective, about how to decide what personal details to include and which not to include, about how to navigate potential publication, about how to manage tone, about how to write a scene, etc. She even adds a gratuitous chapter (in my opinion) about how to motivate yourself to write. If we're buying the book and we are writers, one must expect we have enough discipline to actually write. But this is a minor point.

The book is broken into six major sections: (1) Writing Down Your Stories (which acts like an introduction), (2) The Personal Essay, (3) Techniques and Practices for Essay and Memoir, (4) The Memoir, (5) Getting Published, and (6) an appendix. Lara quotes many inspirational and instructive texts, from Vivian Gornick's The Situation and the Story to Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son. She's well read. She has taught memoir for many years, and this book seems to be the fruit of these classes.

Of course, nothing substitutes for actual writing practice. Lara provides nice "theory" and a good overview, but a book like this will get the writing student only so far....all in all, however, this is a solid text to inspire, review, and guide a nascent writer down into the depths of memoir and essay.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Published 28 days ago by Melanie Brening
5.0 out of 5 stars and given great advice! Thank you for steering me toward how ...
Adair is the most audacious outspoken teacher of writing memoir! She has turned my writing world upside down, and given great advice! Read more
Published 28 days ago by Christee
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book!
The best book on writing I've ever read! Most books on writing are a waste of time - long on preaching, short on information about what really works. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jean Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a great writing book full of very practical suggestions.
Published 2 months ago by playa
5.0 out of 5 stars Just What I Needed
What I love about this book is the conversational tone. It makes it an easy read, entertaining and motivating! And who can resist a book with this title???
Published 4 months ago by RN2012
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than an MFA
A member of my writing group lent me this book not knowing I have an aversion to being told how to write. Read more
Published 6 months ago by ShaunSanders
5.0 out of 5 stars A surpise
Considering the unusual title, clearly a marketing ploy, I found myself surprised at the quality of the book. I liked it.
Published 7 months ago by Pashtun
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Book for Any Writer
Adair Lara's attitude is inspiring and entertaining. She writes authentically and with great humor. I loved this book and recommend it frequently.
Published 8 months ago by Kurt
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
This book is a wonderful inspiration if you think you want to write but are intimidated by the process. Read more
Published 8 months ago by William Brownville
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the Top Three on my list
I've read two dozen books on creative writing and Naked, Drunk, Writing is among the top three. Whether you write fiction, memoir, non-fiction or essays don't miss this one. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Martin
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More About the Author

Adair Lara started her career writing for local magazines--first at San Francisco Focus, the city magazine, and then at SF, a design magazine at which she passed herself off as someone passionately interested in interior design. She wrote freelance humor pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday section, and in 1989 they invited her to join the staff and write a regular column of my own. The newspaper was famed then for its columnists, which include Pulitzer Prize winners Stanton Delaplane, Charles McCabe, and Herb Caen. She has published some ten books or so, including several collections of columns (for more information, go to Her essays have been anthologized upwards of fifty times.

She has won a wide range of awards including:
* 1990: Associated Press, Best Columnist in California.
* 1997: Humor Columns for Newspapers over 100,000, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
* 1998: First place, general interest columns, National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
* 1999: Second place, commentary, American Association of Sunday and Feature editors contest, competing against papers with circulation over 300,000.
* May 17, 2002 was declared Adair Lara Day in San Francisco by proclamation of Mayor Willie Brown

Published books include:
* Naked, Drunk, and Writing (Ten Speed Press, 2010)
* The Granny Diaries (Chronicle Books, 2008)
* The Bigger the Sign, the Worse the Garage Sale (Chronicle Books, 2007)
* You Know You're A Writer When (Chronicle Books, 2007)
* Oopise! Ouchie! (Chronicle Books, 2004) - a board book for kids
* Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer Chronicle Books (2003)
* Hanging out the Wash (Redwheelweiser, 2002) - sold 11,043 copies
* Slowing Down in a Speeded-Up World (Redwheelweiser, 2002) - sold 18,061 copies
* Hold Me Close, Let Me Go (Broadway Books, 2001) - sold 22,000 copies in hardcover and paperback
* The Best of Adair Lara (Scottwall Associates, 1999) - sold 19,500 copies
* At Adair's House (Chronicle Books, 1995)
* Welcome to Earth, Mom (Chronicle Books, 1992)

Praise for Hold Me Close, Let Me Go
The thrilling level of honesty and discovery burned into every line of Hold Me Close, Let Me Go is something that rarely informs a memoir of any kind. In this case, Adair Lara has transcended the genre of self to achieve selflessness. Her story of her struggle, the mistakes, the triumphs, the abiding love and pure anguish to save her brilliant and self-destructive daughter is a must read for anyone who loves a child, or ever hopes to love a child. Not every child will follow Morgan's stormy passage to redemption, but many will, and for any parent, Lara's book will be a beacon.
--Jacqueline Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

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Should you write a memoir?
Lara makes it clear in her book that anecdotes do not a memoir or an essay make. Nothing wrong with writing them down, but you need to plug them into a narrative with a voice and shape it in a way that you reveal how this changed you. I think she saved me a lot of time and effort.
Sep 1, 2010 by Yours Truly |  See all 2 posts
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