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Annie Dillard has spent a lot of time in remote, bare-bones shelters doing something she claims to hate: writing. Slender though it is, The Writing Life richly conveys the torturous, tortuous, and in rare moments, transcendent existence of the writer. Even for Dillard, whose prose is so mellifluous as to seem effortless, the act of writing can seem a Sisyphean task: "When you write," she says, "you lay out a line of words.... Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow or this time next year." Amid moving accounts of her own writing (and life) experiences, Dillard also manages to impart wisdom to other writers, wisdom having to do with passion and commitment and taking the work seriously. "One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place.... Something more will arise for later, something better." And, if that is not enough, "Assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients," she says. "That is, after all, the case.... What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?"
This all makes The Writing Life seem a dense, tough read, but that is not the case at all. Dillard is, after all, human, just like the rest of us. During one particularly frantic moment, four cups of coffee and not much writing down, Dillard comes to a realization: "Many fine people were out there living, people whose consciences permitted them to sleep at night despite their not having written a decent sentence that day, or ever." --Jane Steinberg
"In this collection of short essays, the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and An American Childhood probes the sorcery that levitates her own writing, discussing with clear eye and wry wit how, where and why she writes," said PW .
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
I like to consider myself a writer. On the good days, that means I write, but mostly I fiddle around and tinker. Read morePublished 22 days ago by A. Andrew Joyce
I did like the book, it definitely a very "off the beaten path" book about writing, or at least how writing feels to Mrs. Dillard. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lawrence Mills II
I read this book about twenty years ago and liked it most in the first and last thirds covering the needs for a degree of isolation and analogy with the ocean tides when a writer... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ben J Korgen
Brilliant. Not what I expected, it was better. My copy was the audio book so I had the joy of hearing the beautiful prose read to me. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Book lover
This book has moments of brilliance... and a lot of random stories... I kept hoping for more of the brilliance.Published 1 month ago by Lisa Murray
Great writing, but too short. I could read Annie Dillard all night long.Published 1 month ago by Stephen Smith
One of the best writing books I've read...apart from Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott!Published 2 months ago by Julie Miller
A memoir. A book of short stories about Dillard's daily struggles with the writing process. I felt I was reading journal entries.Published 2 months ago by Shops-a-lot