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Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do Paperback – January 29, 2013
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“When I’m writing... I’m living in two different dimensions: this life I’m living now…and this completely other world I’m inhabiting that no one else knows about.” —Jennifer Egan
“Every story is a seed inside of me that starts to grow and grow, like a tumor, and I have to deal with it sooner or later.” —Isabel Allende
“In the beginning, it was that sense of losing time. Now…I have the sense that I can biff the world a bit. I can exert a force.” —Michael Lewis
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Top Customer Reviews
Almost to a person, many of these writers feel they are in another world when the words flow and they feel they’re writing well.
Many made the comment that at times the characters in their stories often take on a life of their own, as if they were guiding the author’s pen.
As good as many of these scribes are, they still at times suffer from self-doubt, or lack of confidence, and of course practically all of them dread the inevitable bout with block.
Many of them swear to rituals that they feel help them get started; cleaning their studio, ridding the space of any shred of the last work, displaying artifacts that engages their creativity and summons the muse.
Overall, this is a wonderful book for anyone contemplating or already engaged in the writer’s craft. It’s been of tremendous help to me already (mining my first novel), and it was great to see some of the same faults I have shared by professionals. There is much to learn from and a great deal that will give comfort and support to aspiring authors in this book.
To any author, whether you are published or not, the answer to why do you write is simple and these authors are not any different. We write because we have to.
This book takes that answer a step further. They just don't answer 'Because we have to!' They answer "Because I have to..."
It's what comes after the ellipsis that makes this book a must read for aspiring authors. We get an insight into some of the best literary minds. We look up to these authors, we want their success and we want to know their secrets.
The book is nicely broken down so each author gets his or her own chapter. There is a quote from one of thier works and brief background information including the authors vitals. The vitals include information on thier birth, family, schooling, honors and awards, and anything else that might be notable. I liked that it also included a question about a day job. This is followed by contact information and a list of published works.
Then we get the authors words on why they write. We learn interesting tidbits like Isabel Allende has a certain date when she starts writing a book. Jennifer Egan gives insights into winning the Pulitzer. James Frey talks about getting lost (this was personally one of my favorite sections to read). Ann Patchett tells us why she still writes in WordPerfect (I know!) and Jodi Picult talks about movie deals.
These are just a few quick examples of what these authors have to share. Each other also ends thier chapter with some wisdom for writers.
I think Terry McMillan sums it up best "I didn't choose to write. It was something that just happened to me." If you can relate, this book is worth picking up and reading.
The format of this particular book is clean, clear and appealing. Maran interviewed twenty notable authors and gives them each a short chapter. There is a nice balance between a standard set of questions and unique ones that flowed from the conversations. One of the things that works in its favour is the succinct length. The result is a comfortingly familiar set of responses mingled in with a wider array of pleasingly original bon mots. What struck me the most was honesty of response. All of those interviewed are extremely blunt in their assessment of the trade. The long and short is, writing is a challenge both as a skill and as a business.
What motivates these literary luminaries ranges from "sheer egoism" to "historical impulse" to bringing "order to the chaos of life". Among those in the book are David Baldacci, Sebastian Junger, Michael Lewis, Jodi Picoult and Meg Wolitzer. Sue Grafton delights with her reason for choosing the profession, "I write because in 1962 I put in my application for a job working in the children's department at Sears, and they never called me back."
Most believe that to be a good writer, one must read. That is an oft-cited tip but Jennifer Egan takes it further by suggesting that writers should "Read at the level at which you want to write.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Writers have always been readers and have usually started "just writing" early, at least by their early twenties. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Judith B. Harnsberger
I really enjoyed reading this book.
My greatest passion in life is writing, so this book was like a beautiful mind conversation about what I love the most!
Fascinating to read about famous authors with their joys and struggles. I was astounded at some of the common themes, the life-long journeys of putting pen to paper, the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Doranne
I enjoyed this volume immensely. ( I finished it in a day.) However, I would like to comment on Terry McMillan's contribution. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Midori
This book just blew me away. As a writer it can sometimes be a solitary world. Knowing that acclaimed writers experienced the same things you do was refreshing and the advice that... Read morePublished on April 15, 2014 by Kevin B.
The author has managed to create a template and stuff 20 wildly different talents into it - not in a bad way, each wrote what they wanted on the subject. Read morePublished on March 12, 2014 by Chris Korody