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The Writing Life Paperback – November 12, 2013
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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
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- 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
- Best Sellers Rank: #55,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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But rather than being a handbook on how to write, The Writing Life is a collection of stories accumulated during the writing of several books. Annie Dillard does not explain how to write books — she explains how to live a life in which you write, all day every day, and try to create with words on a page. There are few techniques here; rather, the book is filled with stories of how it feels to be stuck in a spot in the book (been there) and why the end product is never quite what we’d imagined starting out (felt that).
Mostly, The Writing Life tells you what to expect if you’re going to write books. It teaches you how to see stories with your eyes so that you can transfer them to your medium: the printed page. For me, it stirred a few deep thoughts, reminding me that I really couldn’t give up writing — and that’s what the writing life is. Closing the back page left me wanting to run and work on my writing from years ago. If you’re a writer — or wondering if you ought to keep trying to be a writer — The Writing Life will tell you.
Like any other of her books, Annie Dillard fills this one with many ridiculous stories and illustrations that capture her point. Her books are like a million sparks that fly up from a burning log: filled with many individual, unique stories. And here’s where the similarities to Pilgrim begin. Much like that book, the stories in The Writing Life made me want to follow in Dillard’s footsteps. This, I’d guess, is exactly why the book was written.
I’d recommend The Writing Life if you are looking at being a writer, are a writer, may someday be a writer, are married to a writer — if you’re at all connected to writing, you’ll enjoy the stories and message of this book. And if you’re not sure if you’re cut out to be a writer, give this a read: it’s only 120 pages. Maybe, like me, you’ll find out that you can’t not write.
Appealing workplaces are to be avoided—imagination should meet memory in the dark. Writing usually comes slowly and with struggle.
Writing is “unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then—and only then—it is handed to you.” This seems to capture so well the intersection between the labor of writing and the gift of something wonderful that takes us by surprise.
Dillard talks of following where a work leads; of discovering where it is going. She also suggests that art is sometimes like rowing against the tide. You keep at it and it doesn’t always seem to be getting you anywhere, but still you keep at it, trusting that it will.
This was lovely to read—full of striking metaphor and sharp images, and there were good bits throughout.
I found Dillard’s advice to authors about habits (e.g., where to write) and approaches to writing (explore the story) to be encouraging. She really emphasizes the big picture and the long vision. She speaks of years, not of mere months. To be clear, The Writing Life is not a how-to book, not a craft book.
If you are a genre writer, I don’t think you would like this book. Dillard’s meandering prose, her long, introspective paragraphs, and her tangential musings about chopping wood, playing softball, and riding in a stunt plane are anything but the fast pace and tight prose genre authors strive for.
Dillard explains that writing is dizzying and time consuming, and the writer often rows against the tide or crashes into the earth, but it’s how the word-artist experiences the purity of the art form. Writing may hurt.
Overall, The Writing Life is a thought-provoking, encouraging book, and I gave it five stars. It’s aimed at a narrow audience, though, so not all writers/readers will enjoy Dillard’s autobiography.
Top reviews from other countries
Like morning tv pop-talk shows, loads how-to-do tips. But author tells them in very clumsy way by telling about her daily life routines.
George Orwell tells gigantic amount of wisdom on the last chapter of his book little book WHY I WRITE.
But this 110 pages booklet, I can not remember any impacting tip.