The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
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The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  787 ratings  ·  138 reviews
“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”

So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto"...more
Kindle Edition, 45 pages
Published August 25th 2011 by Byliner, Inc. (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Booksaremyboyfriends
THE GETAWAY CAR is Patchett’s mini-writing memoir and it’s my favorite work of hers to date. Girl had some making up to do. I’m a BEL CANTO fan, but I had very mixed feelings about this summer’s STATE OF WONDER. But all is forgiven because girl takes a hammer and NAILS it with this short and sweet memoir that tracks the ups and downs of her career through the sale of her first novel. Highlights include her tales of being one of Grace Paley’s student (Paley is so obviously Dr. Swenson in STATE OF...more
Melanie
Loved every word of this insanely wise and insightful account.
Catelyn May
Sometimes I read a book at exactly the right moment. And every time it happens, I am struck by that peculiar feeling that I've received something valuable that I didn't even know I needed. I needed to read this and I read it at exactly the right moment, and that might color my feelings about it, but isn't that how it is with everything?

When I was younger, mostly middle school and high school, I read books on writing. I never wrote much myself, as I knew that most of what I would attempt would be...more
Crystal
This is a Kindle "Short" that I enjoyed very much. I have not read any of Patchett's other works but her discussion of how she approaches fiction intrigued me. I read this in two sittings so I'm not sure that I remember what the getaway car had to do with it, but this is a comfortable, entertaining read for those writerly types among us. Or I would imagine a fan of her work would enjoy reading this. She offers some advice for those "writerly" types who want to publish and she gives general writi...more
Marieke
I'm wavering between three and four stars. Patchett is not my favorite writer but she's a writer and I enjoy reading what authors have to say about how they do their work. I write, too, just in a totally different capacity, but it's still writing. I often find helpful things in essays like this, whether it's comfort (yes, it's normal to have demoralizing moments in the process of writing), or tips that might work for me when I have trouble focusing enough to get all that blasted information and...more
Mayra
I’ve never read a book or a short story by Ann Patchett before and I can’t tell you that I ever will—I passed Bel Canto more times than I could count when I worked at Borders without feeling any urge to pick it up. I also can’t tell you why I decided to pay $2.99 for an ebook by an author I’d never read before, when I haven’t read writing memoirs in almost a decade. But here we are. I bought it, I read it, I loved it and I learned from it.

This is super short, under a hundred pages (or a hundred...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Truly inspirational little memoir for writers. Filled with so many quote-worthy snippets ... though this one resonated with me greatly (and obviously with many others, given the number of Kindle "highlighters" on it):

"I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing."
Joe Flood
The questions I get most about writing are the practical ones. What do you write with? Where do you write? How do you find time to write?

Answers to these questions are supplied by novelist Ann Patchett in The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life. It's like a FAQ for aspiring writers.

Do you need to get an MFA in Creative Writing? Not if it means going into debt, according the prudent Patchett.

Should you turn your desk away from the window, to avoid distractions? "Desk positionin...more
Happyreader
Apparently one of the downsides of being a best-selling author is that you’re constantly inundated by offers from insistent strangers to take advantage of the fabulous opportunity to write their enthralling life stories. For a 50/50 split of the profits, of course, since they’d write it themselves if they had the time.

This short piece essentially says feel free to dig out that inner great novel yourself because she’s not going to write it for you. Just realize that you’ll need talent, drive, dis...more
Juan Ignacio Gelos

“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto", "Truth and Beauty"), talks at length about her literary career—the highs and the lows—and shares advice on the craft and ar

...more
Tricia
Ann Patchett offers a glimpse into her writer's life with "The Getaway Car." Part-memoir, part friendly "since you asked" advice, the essay addresses the reality and myths of the writing life. To her credit, Patchett does admit that what she outlines as her process is just that: her process. She illustrates this by comparing how she approaches a novel versus how her best friend and fellow writer approaches her novel writing. Some people compose in their head for months or maybe even years (Patch...more
Georgiana
Won a copy of this Kindle single when joining byliner.com. I've heard parts of it before, in various talks given by Ann Patchett (and posted online). I enjoyed listening to the talks more than reading this single. I'm not interested in writing fiction, but many of the suggestions made by AP have to do with good work habits, not exclusively with writing.

Favorite quotes:

“It's a wonderful thing to find a great teacher, but you also have to find him or her at a time in life when you're able to liste...more
Amy
I LOVE to read books about writing, especially the memoirs. I've read a few of Patchett's books and I prefer the nonfiction, this especially included. I like her practical stance on MFA programs (don't go in debt for one) and her honest sharing of how difficult writing can be and how completely stubborn the writer can be (about writing). Patchett had the benefit of studying under some of America's premier authors and argues you can teach a person to write, albeit only in sentence structure, plot...more
Stephanie
Warm, smart, and funny. Great reading for any writer no matter what stage of a career they might be at. I found it incredibly reassuring and kind, and I marked several sections with (electronic) highlights so that I can go back and re-read them again next time I'm battling self-doubt and insecurity.

Also, I read several anecdotes out loud to my husband because they were so funny!

But my favorite section was the one on her friendships with other writers, which was so true and so powerful. I loved...more
Niki Danforth
Just finished reading the essay, "The Getaway Car," by Anne Patchett, as part of her longer collection, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. In this one essay, Patchett takes a stab at exactly what it means to pour everything you are into being a writer. The author says, "I never learned how to take the beautiful thing in my imagination and put it on paper without feeling I killed it along the way. I did, however, learn how to weather the death, and I learned how to forgive myself for it."

Patc...more
Patrice Fitzgerald
I enjoyed this short and frank book about writing from Ann Patchett, of whom I'm a big fan. I was impressed by the practical nature of her advice -- exactly what the book promises.

She's entertaining and succinct.

Highly recommended for writers.
Joan Winnek
I read this right after finishing Ann Patchett's first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, which I loved. This short memoir tells how this book came to be.
Emily
Brilliant as always, Ann Patchett. Delightful and useful advice for all, not just writers although certainly its focus is on helping writers get started.
Marybeth
Great, simple advice. Every aspiring writer should read.
Jacquelin
Here is an essential guide on writing from someone who knows what it means to live in another world of a story. I found Patchett's essay to be filled with useful suggestions and words of encouragement for writers. I will definitely be referring to it again and again.

On making writing a priority:

I could see the genius in not having given 100 percent of myself over to writing before. It had kept me from ever having to come to terms with how good I was—or wasn’t. As long as something got in the way...more
Lindsey Lang
Loved it! I haven't actually read any of this author's books yet but I do have both Bel Canto and Patron Saint on my bookshelf. And now that I've read her views on writing maybe that will be enough to get me around to them. Either way I absolutely Loved this short book about writing, the love and hate of it, and this authors process and 'advice' if you really want to call it that. What I liked was that the book felt like a cozy conversation held by two friends in front of a fireplace. It wasn't...more
Kelly Massry
Ann Patchett has received much attention for her championing of independent bookstores; she is the owner of one in Nashville, Tennessee. She is someone I don’t always love as a writer (I read and disdained State of Wonder this summer) but who I respect very much as a literary figure. I actually think she is at her best as a memoir writer; my favorite book of hers is Truth and Beauty, which details her friendship with writer Lucy Grealy. (First read Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face then read Trut...more
astried
I think I found out about Patchett from reviews of her book Bel Canto on Goodreads. Funnily the reviews for that book actually makes me wary of it and strike it out from considered to read list. Then there's another review about her memoir which made me even more wary of her. But then this is her book about writing and I risked it.

Having read it, I'm not sure I'll read her other books. I've read some other book about writing from other author and although this one is not necessarily bad, it's no...more
Deirdre Keating
Dec 14, 2012 Deirdre Keating rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Deirdre by: I saw it on Lara's goodreads:)
Shelves: nonfiction
I don't have an e-reader so I struggled to find a way to read this---and bought it via google finally and read in one sitting. I loved Patchett's Truth and Beauty and this book fleshed out some of the same time period in different ways. I'm surprised to hear her method of having most of it written/decided before she begins, but I loved every minute of reading it.

I adore Grace Paley and laughed out loud at her description. I was shocked to find that she applied to other writing programs and Iowa...more
Julie
This little memoir is more than just Patchett’s reflections on her own writing experiences. It offers advice to would-be writers in a way that engages the reader and empathizes with their struggles. She offers up her own practices and then admits that everyone has their own writing process. By defining what works for her, she is in no way setting guidelines, yet she illustrates how discipline is the key factor to getting words and ideas on paper. There were so many aspects I could relate to, hav...more
Bookreaderljh
This is an author's book on the practice of writing - at least for her. It delves into the work behind a great novel and the writing process in general. Definitely a read in one sitting type of book but for an aspiring novelist - that may be enough. I love Ann Patchett's novels and know a little of her back story, so this book added to that knowledge. I liked reading about how she constructs a novel or story and her main point being that writing - though the skill is sometimes a gift - the actua...more
Lisa
I have often imagined there was a writer somewhere inside me waiting to be released. I have read a lot of books with ideas on how to release that writer. This one has me rescheduling my life starting tomorrow to see what might come of actually sitting at my desk and WRITING!
Angela Usas
Thanks to Abbey who gave me this book. It was just what I needed to read. There is a lot of wisdom in these pages and I'm left with energy to do what I must do which is write.
No room for judgement or need for a final product. Just write because you love to write and you've always wanted to write. That's reason enough!
Robin Donnelly
It's o.k. Not great. Some useful tidbits of advice that I highlighted but nothing ground-breaking here. A one-sitting read, thank goodness. I'm not too keen on this writer's style. Would have liked to give it 2.5 stars, but that's not possible, so 2 it is.
Lynn
Funny that I started this before I even knew I would be taking the National Writing Project! Now it means more than I first gathered from it, and I will go back to it. She kind of has a sassy attitude similar to Anne Lamott, by her "This is how I do it, if it works for you, fine, if not, oh, we'll..." type of comments. I especially like that she says there is no such thing as writer's block, it really just procrastination., too funny, when there are so many other authors selling and giving advic...more
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Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.

She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. "Home is ...the stable window that opens out into the imagination."

Patchett attended hi...more
More about Ann Patchett...
Bel Canto State of Wonder Run Truth and Beauty The Magician's Assistant

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“We all have ideas, sometimes good ones, not to mention the gift of emotional turmoil that every childhood provides.” 3 likes
“It turns out that the distance from head to hand, from wafting butterfly to entomological specimen, is achieved through regular, disciplined practice. What begins as something like a dream will in fact stay a dream forever unless you have the tools and the discipline to bring it out.” 3 likes
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