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The Making of a Writer, Volume 2: Journals, 1963-1969 Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 4, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

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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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400064333
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064335
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This volume completes the story of Gail Godwin's years as a developing writer, ending with the publishing of her first novel, "The Perfectionists". During the first half of the book, Godwin is still mired in a U.S. Travel Office job in London. Her journals remain episodic and dedicated, as if they were warm-ups for serious fictional efforts.

Once she wins acceptance to the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, the tone of the journals changes. She is more focused on grooming and shaping her various ideas for novels and short stories. As with Vol. 1, her writing endeavors continue to compete with her serial relationships with men, and her struggles with loneliness. In Iowa City she becomes immersed in a social life revolving around faculty parties, and dinners with a few close married couples.

She has philosophical jousts with a workshop instructor (Robert Coover) who challenges her to incorporate more imaginative devices in her writing-- but, although his prodding leads her to produce intriguing stabs at metafiction, she remains committed to following her traditionalist writing muses, such as Henry James and Jane Austen.

Godwin reveals herself as a searching personality, constantly gleaning from philosophical texts and literary criticism. She also goes through many of the "touchstone" experiences of the Sixties, watching Bergman and Fellini movies, getting involved in cultish movements (Scientology and Objectivism), throwing the I Ching.

Finally, in 1969, as the Hong Kong flu reaches toward Iowa City, she receives the news that she will have her novel published. This seems to lift a pall from her, causing her journals to brighten considerably and even her attitudes toward romance begin to moderate...
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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 By Elaine Light on February 4, 2011
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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