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The Writing Life Paperback – November 12, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 305 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Product details

  • Lexile Measure : 880L
  • Item Weight : 3.52 ounces
  • ISBN-10 : 0060919884
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0060919887
  • Paperback : 111 pages
  • Product Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.29 x 8 inches
  • Publisher : Harper Perennial (November 12, 2013)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 305 ratings

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
305 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on August 13, 2015
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Shelley Day
5.0 out of 5 stars To be read again and again, I'd say
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 10, 2016
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Adnan Soysal
1.0 out of 5 stars Bubble
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 20, 2020
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Lucy Mitchell
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable to read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 12, 2020
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Bailey Cericlought
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 22, 2018
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F Nuttall
5.0 out of 5 stars Annie Dillard should be better known. She writes about writing and life
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 6, 2018
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