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The Making of a Writer, Volume 2: Journals, 1963-1969 [Kindle Edition]

Gail Godwin , Rob Neufeld
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $12.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“True, time is the villain and we are trapped in him. True, love is sometimes not returned. True, friends are sometimes false. But to be aware of this—all of it—and still want to go on living, that is the triumph. It is the reward.”                 
As a young woman and aspiring author, Gail Godwin kept a detailed journal of her hopes and dreams, her love affairs, daily struggles, and small triumphs as she yearned for the day when she would finally become a published writer. At the urging of her friend Joyce Carol Oates, Godwin has distilled these early journals into two parts: This second and final volume opens in London in 1963 and concludes with the triumphant sale of Godwin’s first novel in 1969.

Newly divorced and filled with literary ambition, Godwin arrives in London in 1962. At the start of this second volume, the call to write has become ingrained in the trajectory of her life. Though she is hobbled by a tedious but well-paying job with the U.S. Travel Service (“I thought I should no more be doing this job than raising skunks”), Godwin’s journals brim with the emotional complexity and intellectual curiosity that will soon distinguish her novels, and a sharp wit that belies her twenty-six years.

Through these pages, Godwin’s development as a writer takes center stage, bolstered by her keen observations of human relationships—especially those between men and women: “I want to exploit, define, name, place this ever-shifting contest between men and women.” Her own love affairs are varied, doomed, and fascinating: There’s a short-lived engagement to a rugby player, a dalliance with a policeman, a tortured marriage to a psychiatrist obsessed with Scientology. “Men have let me down,” she writes, “and I construct my meaning in the emptiness they’ve left behind.”

Leaving London and all its passionate wonders and disappointments, Godwin arrives in Iowa City to study at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. There, taught by Kurt Vonnegut and José Donoso, building friendships with Jane Barnes, John Casey, David Plimpton, and John Irving, Gail Godwin finally achieves her dream—and a published novelist is born. The Making of a Writer, Volume 2 is a remarkable window into the life of one of the most notable American writers of a generation, and an extraordinarily candid look at the very heart of a woman who has written herself to acclaim.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Godwin picks up where the first volume of her involving journals leaves off. In her midtwenties, divorced and determined to write, she is still in London in the 1960s, far from her North Carolina home, diligently penning short stories, working a cushy job at the U.S. Travel Service office, dating constantly, and relying on her journals as a safe place for thinking out her experiences, especially her many complex relationships. What Godwin hopes to do in her fiction is exploit, define, name, place this ever-shifting contest between men and women. She writes of Henry James, Jung, her father’s suicide, and her own dark moments. A fiction class enables her to write the first story of hers to be published; introduces her to her second husband, a psychiatrist and a Scientologist; and leads to her acceptance at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. When her husband reads her journals without her permission, her precarious marriage dissolves, though her journals continue to provide a refuge. Godwin’s provocative chronicle of her apprentice years illuminates fascinating worlds within worlds and affirms the fact that writing requires conviction and assiduousness. --Donna Seaman


Praise for Gail Godwin’s The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961–1963

“A generous gift from a much-loved author to her readers.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Full of lively, entertaining observations on the literary life . . . [captures] the spirit of a young writer’s adventure into foreign lands and foreign realms of thought and creative endeavor.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“As cities and continents and men change, the entries are borne along by . . . the young Godwin’s fierce conviction that she is meant to write fiction and her desire to distract herself from this mission with any man who catches her eye.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[Godwin] describes a high-wire act of love and work. . . . She espouses fierce, uncompromising ideas about fiction.”—Los Angeles Times

“A gold mine.”—The Boston Globe

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 511 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400064333
  • Publisher: Random House (December 22, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,250,524 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Capturing a 60's Writer's Insight December 3, 2011
By KGarset
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I own almost all of Gail Godwin's books bought through used and some new. I loved the Volume 1 of her Journals and actually identified with her struggles in maintaining a writing frame of mind and discipline of journaling. However, this second volume contains a different Gail due to her influence in Scientology. She went through some complex changes in these years but my fascination stayed swelled by her character formation from her journal stories. I highly recommend one to read some of her earlier books and then peruse her journals. It is amazing. I have my own notes on her journals. She is a classic writer that knows how to intertwine a story so one has a flow and not a steady plot moving. I like to describe her books as literary waves. Her journals are affirming to any writer who knows what it is to get away from the daily entry.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am about 2/3 through the journals and am eager to finish. I find the entries honest, fascinating, and very informative. Seeing the contrast between Volume 1 and Volume 2 engages me further, as in Volume 1 little mention of spirituality was made; in Volume 2 the author's explorations become clearer, and one can see the emergence of a shift that later manifests in Godwin's fiction. The humanity of the journals creates a song in my heart and gives me hope for myself, regarding what I can accomplish despite the confusions of my life. The entries are interesting to read even if you don't know Godwin's work, and I highly recommend THE MAKING OF A WRITER, VOL. 2. I recommend vol. 1, as well, but not as highly, as I think the writing and content more vivid here.
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More About the Author

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including Unfinished Desires, A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband, and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961--1963, the first of two volumes, edited by Rob Neufeld. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has written libretti for ten musical works with the composer Robert Starer. She lives in Woodstock, New York.

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