- Age Range: 5 and up
- Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Heinemann; 1 edition (September 28, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0867096004
- ISBN-13: 978-0867096002
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Essential Don Murray: Lessons from America's Greatest Writing Teacher 1st Edition
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About the Author
Lisa C. Miller is coeditor (with Thomas Newkirk) of The Essential Don Murray, which gathers the most important insights about writing and teaching writing from "America's Greatest Writing Teacher."
For nearly 60 years Donald Murray was a tireless explorer, chronicler, and advocate of writers, writing, and the teaching of writing. "We are coaches, encouragers, developers, creators of environments in which our students can experience the writing process for themselves," he wrote in 1972. Through the years and over numerous books, academic articles, newspaper columns, classroom handouts, writing conferences, and warm collegial conversations, thousands of students, writers, and teachers benefited from Don's work. Millions more continue to benefit by the wide circle of his influence over the fields of writing, writing instruction, journalism. Some of Don's most important insights about writing and teaching writing are collected in the Heinemann's The Essential Don Murray (edited by Thomas Newkirk and Lisa Miller). A Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Don was a columnist for The Boston Globe and Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire. He was also a writing coach for several national newspapers, wrote poetry for many journals, including Poetry, and authored several books on the craft of writing and teaching writing, including Learning by Teaching, Expecting the Unexpected, Shoptalk, and Crafting a Life in Essay, Story, Poem, and Writing to Deadline. Read article on seacoastonline.com featuring Don Murray »
Thomas Newkirk is the author of numerous Heinemann titles, including Minds Made for Stories, The Art of Slow Reading, The Performance of Self in Student Writing (winner of the NCTE's David H. Russell Award), and Misreading Masculinity. For almost three decades, he taught writing at the University of New Hampshire where he founded the New Hampshire Literacy Institutes, a summer program for teachers. In addition to working as a teacher, writer, and editor, he has served as the chair of his local school board.
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition to his better known essays ("Teach Writing as a Process Not Product," "Write Before Writing," and "Writing as Process"), THE ESSENTIAL DON MURRAY provides more intimate glimpses into Murray's life as it provides pages from his Daybook. Murray was maniacal about habit -- "nulla dies sine linea" (or, "Never a day with a line") was his motto and his mainstay. He encouraged countless others to write every day no matter what their moods and demands, and the fruit of all of his exhortations are here.
In addition to his personal notes and many gathered quotes on writing, Murray's book provides well-grounded advice for writing teachers. For instance, in "The Listening Eye: Reflections on the Writing Conference," he counsels on the art of listening, nudging, offering multiple suggestions to help the writer to revise and break loose. In "Like Orwell, Essaying One's Best," he writes "George Orwell not only wrote great essays because of talent honed by craft, but because he wrote. He filled the page, day after day, year after year, practicing his craft so that he was prepared for inspiration when it dropped by. He also submitted and published the worst while waiting for the best."
In other words, the immortals weren't as immortal as we suppose. They wrote a lot of dreck, too. The important thing? They wrote. Daily. Without fail. Don's main message? You can, too. And you'll get better if you do. In many waves, that is the main theme of THE ESSENTIAL DON MURRAY, and although we as writers understand that, we still need to hear it early and often. Thus, this book -- and none too soon.
Don Murray's passion for the craft of writing bleeds from the pages in a way that both inspires and pushes the reading writer to pick up the pen and have fun with the craft: not just during official "sit down and write" times but throughout the hours of the day, every day, throughout life. The benefits of the Life Lab Journaling techniques he describes in this book should not go underestimated. My own have become treasures I've barely begun to mine.
While I was never in any of Murray's classes, it seems like he has achieved a sort of immortal writing coach status with the earnest simplicity and sincerity of this very special book. I recommend it for anyone who wants to make their writing their fun.
THE ESSENTIAL DON MURRAY contains not only Murray's essays, but also serves as a compilation of excerpts from his "daybooks," sketches, photographs, poems, and quotes from other writers and artists that Murray found affirming. I particularly enjoyed looking over Murray's typed drafts, often littered with handwritten notes, a wonderful (and informative) opportunity to view the artist at work. Since Murray's manuscripts, etc. are now housed at the Polymer Institute, this book provides access to the best of that collection.
Perhaps what touched me most about this collection is Murray's honesty and courage. Even in his more instructional essays, he does not shy away from speaking (and writing) about the difficult moments of his life: being a paratrooper, understanding a rough childhood, coping with his daughter's death, with his own heart attack, and with growing old. Murray never gives the sense that these types of events are only reserved for certain genres. "All my writing - and yours - is autobiographical," something to be embraced, Murray asserts, not ashamed of. I take solace in these words because I feel that too many times we are asked to write as NOT ourselves, such as essays for classes or even publication.
THE ESSENTIAL DON MURRAY gave me heart to continue writing; to be selfish about it, make time for it, nurture and get brash with it. "I'm no George Orwell, but neither was George Orwell most days," that kind of unconditional encouragement is what I found throughout this book, and why it has a special place on my own writing desk.