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The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,263 Ratings  ·  177 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"
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Kindle Edition, 45 pages
Published August 25th 2011 by Byliner, Inc.
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Community Reviews

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Booksaremyboyfriends
Sep 05, 2011 Booksaremyboyfriends rated it it was amazing
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
Catelyn May
Jan 18, 2012 Catelyn May rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks
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
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Deborah Edwards
Jul 06, 2015 Deborah Edwards rated it it was amazing
Writers are always looking for inspiration. Most of us know we will never write the Great American Novel, but we continue to write. Most of us also know we will never make our living as writers, and so we work other jobs to pay the bills while writing in the bits and pieces of time not filled by other concerns. When we think of an author like Ann Patchett, who has made the leap, has written successful novels of depth and substance that also afford her to pay the bills and live her life as a writ ...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
Crystal
Apr 07, 2013 Crystal rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-writing
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
Melanie
Dec 03, 2013 Melanie rated it it was amazing
Loved every word of this insanely wise and insightful account.
Joe Flood
May 15, 2012 Joe Flood rated it it was amazing
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
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Mayra
Feb 16, 2013 Mayra rated it it was amazing
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
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Melissa Crytzer Fry
Nov 29, 2012 Melissa Crytzer Fry rated it it was amazing
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."
Lorin Cary
Apr 20, 2016 Lorin Cary rated it it was amazing
Pratchett calls this a "practical memoir" rather than a guide because she for uses on what works for her, who she writes, what her experience has been. Along the way her experience provides useful tips. Put in the time. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Time applied = work completed.
And she suggests several books: Collected Story, by Grace Paley; Raymond Chandler's, The Long Goodbye; books by your Elizabeth McCracken, who reads and makes suggestions on all of her work. Short but pithy. An
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Happyreader
Oct 26, 2011 Happyreader rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
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
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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
Sep 05, 2011 Tricia rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2011 Georgiana rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-free
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
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Amy
Oct 03, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
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
Kaytee Cobb
Feb 20, 2016 Kaytee Cobb rated it it was amazing
Read this for the #MMDReadingChallenge as a "book you can read in a day", or a morning, as the case may be. it was short and witty and insightful. even if you don't have dreams of writing, I think that Patchett's advice is kind of universally applicable: put in the time, do what you love, work through the process, just sit down and do it. Recommended, and a very short easy read anyone can finish in a day.
Stephanie
Apr 18, 2012 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoirs
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
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Lauri
Mar 09, 2015 Lauri rated it it was amazing
This is a very enjoyable memoir of novelist Ann Patchett's life as an author. It is an interesting stroll down memory lane with her, touching upon her educational background, her mentors, and her struggles and successes. Whether or not you are or want to be a writer, there are lots of little gems in here. A few examples:

- "We all have ideas, sometimes good ones, not to mention the gift of emotional turmoil that every childhood provides. In short, the story is in us, and all we have to do is si
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Alok
Jan 14, 2016 Alok rated it really liked it
The book is about the real life experience about how a renowned author journeys from the initial struggling days of writing till she achieves success. The book is slated with good practice's and techniques to be followed based on the author's experience. According to the author each one of us has stories and contents imbibed in our mind, but the key to good story is how one plots the same and convert what is in the mind to three dimensional reality as fathomed by reader so as to make it interest ...more
Susan Barsy
Aug 15, 2014 Susan Barsy rated it it was ok
Shelves: lit
As a expression of personality, this breezy, how-I-did-it reflection on achieving writerly success was unbecoming. Ms Patchett is spunky and wants us to admire her, but that's hard to do when she displays such evident condescension toward some of the ordinary devotees who attend her talks because they admire her or want to learn something of the secrets of novel-writing. She pillories those who strike her as stupid or benighted. This is an ungracious thing to do.

Some bits of advice in this book
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Niki Danforth
Feb 03, 2014 Niki Danforth rated it it was amazing
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
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Patrice Fitzgerald
Mar 19, 2012 Patrice Fitzgerald rated it really liked it
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.
Rissie
May 12, 2016 Rissie rated it it was amazing
A mini memoir about the work of writing. How good can it be? Turns out, REALLY great. (It is by Ann Patchett after all.) I have already recommended it to several friends, three calculus students and two geometry classes. If I could, I would buy copies for all of them.

This little book is about how to write, but I found that so much of her advice and wisdom can be applied to any task that requires creativity. (There are many more of these tasks than people realize.)

"It turns out that the distance
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Ginger
Jun 17, 2015 Ginger rated it liked it
Everyone loved this, but aside from it being too short, I just didn't think much of the advice was all that universal. It seemed very common sense to me, which is not to say that writing is easy, but I just think many know how to do it (just write every day, keep writing, edit, etc.), it's just that writing is hard and most of us don't want to do it.

Still, I'll read anything Patchett pens. If you want even more insight into her writing life, I suggest picking up Truth & Beauty. It's her memo
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Joan Winnek
Feb 25, 2012 Joan Winnek rated it really liked it
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
Dec 28, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 30, 2011 Marybeth rated it it was amazing
Great, simple advice. Every aspiring writer should read.
Jacquelin
Jul 20, 2013 Jacquelin rated it it was amazing
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
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Lindsey Lang
Aug 22, 2013 Lindsey Lang rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 23, 2013 Kelly Massry rated it it was amazing
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
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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
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More about Ann Patchett...

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“The more we are willing to separate from distraction and step into the open arms of boredom, the more writing will get on the page.” 9 likes
“Maybe everyone does have a novel in them, perhaps even a great one. I don't believe it, but for the purposes of this argument, let's say it's so. Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words.” 8 likes
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