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The Writing Life Paperback – November 12, 2013
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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
From Publishers Weekly
"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.
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Top customer reviews
I admire the author's strength of conviction in her professionalism as a writer; going to great lengths in creating writing spaces and scrutinizing vistas and objects to glean crisp and sparkling descriptions. Her philosophical considerations might border on the extreme to non-writers. To me, it's "old home week." When someone is aiming for perfection, whether it be in writing about writing or in competing for the gold in an Olympic event, the reader (or bystander) can't help but share some of the angst.
Sharing the angst while reading this book, I was imagining what it would be like to be crafting this work for an audience of writers - verbal athletes themselves who would be judging the work for its gold medal potential. Glad that it was Annie Dillard who took on this challenge of portraying the depths of her writer-self, I give her five stars as my Gold Medal tribute.
Most recent customer reviews
Unlike a how-to guide full of lectures and quick fixes, Dillard writes...Read more