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The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work : A Collection from the Washington Post Book World

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  141 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Featuring a gathering of more than fifty of contemporary literature's finest voices, this volume will enchant, move, and inspire readers with its tales of The Writing Life. In it, authors divulge professional secrets: how they first discovered they were writers, how they work, how they deal with the myriad frustrations and delights a writer's life affords. Culled from ten
Paperback, 404 pages
Published May 8th 2003 by PublicAffairs (first published May 7th 2003)
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Feb 15, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it
This was fun to read. Writers are so creative--a thousand essays (a few times it felt like that many) on the same topic, and yet each was different. The introductory biographies were sometimes awesome, sometimes unnecessarily longer than the essay itself.
Dec 26, 2014 David rated it liked it
This collection from the Washington Post draws essays and their inspirations from novelists, nonfiction writers, and one or two times, a writer's arch nemesis, the editor. It's uneven and often times tedious, but roaring with the fuel any artist needs to get up in the morning.

The interesting conundrum here is that no matter who's giving me advice (mostly in the form of personal life stories instead of upfront secrets of the trade), they're still writers, no matter my personal affiliation to the
Steven Belanger
Mar 22, 2016 Steven Belanger rated it it was amazing
So it occurred to me, genius that I am, that I've been selling short stories and writing novels (notice the difference there), but I don't know any writers. I mean, at all. Harlan Coben once bought be lunch at an agent's conference in Dedham, Massachusetts, and even sat with me to eat (so of course I've bought all of his books since), but that's it. I don't know any writers at all.

Yes, that's a cry for help. Writers, befriend me!

But I almost digress. The point here is that there are questions wr
May 18, 2013 JP rated it really liked it
How do you rate a collection? Is it the selections that matter? How well they tie together as a theme? Is it the introductions to each selection? Marie Arana succeeded in all of these areas. I enjoyed every essay, especially the ones by James Michener, Ray Bradbury, Carol Shields, Patricia Cornwell, Wendy Wasserstein, Michael Korda, and Julian Barnes. The career path for writers has changed over time. What remains constant is that every writer finds a distinctive way of viewing the world and mas ...more
Thom Jones
Jan 02, 2016 Thom Jones rated it liked it
Recommends it for: amateur writers
Recommended to Thom by: discovered at a used book shop
I have taken up hobby writing since retiring and I was thrilled to find this book. Though it was from 2003 (read in 2015) I doubt that writer's advice and experiences were significantly different then than now (except publishing, for sure). I found frank descriptions of the writers life styles, methods, stumbling blocks and joys. All this encouraged me as I start out on this adventure. I have few (well, maybe a few) thoughts of reaching a life of fame. I am happy with a good passage at this poin ...more
Dec 09, 2010 Madeline rated it really liked it
Shelves: assigned-reading
A collection of very nice craft essays by a variety of different authors. My favorite was by Joyce Carol Oates, where she discusses why she writes so many books about abused women - when she was in school, Oates was constantly bullied by a couple of boys, and she writes stories about women being abused as a way of dealing with this childhood trauma.

I read this, thought about how often I complain about how Joyce Carol Oates always writes about how Men Are Bad And Will Hurt You, and immediately fe
Dec 12, 2009 Alison rated it it was amazing
It was like stepping into a room and witnessing brilliant minds who spoke on the craft writing. I was inspired and surprised by what some of the writers had to say as well as intrigued by the variety of personalities that sit down to compose stories. Most invaluable was the list of authors I walked away with in my back pocket. I visited my local library the soonest I could and grabbed their books off the shelf, ready to discover more.
Jan 17, 2011 Jeff rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book for it's great insight and clear contributions by many writers. Many of the ideas provided here were quickly incorporated into my own writing practices, and with good results. If you are seriously working at your writing and living The Writing Life. This book offers plenty of good advice.
Vicky Skinner (mynameisbibliophile)
This book is a really special collection of articles for all types of writers. Most of them I sincerely enjoyed, while some of them I couldn't connect as closely with. I highly recommend it for any writer.
May 12, 2008 Garland rated it it was amazing
Totally engrossing, with so many different perspectives on the craft of writing. Fiction, nonfiction, historicl, essay: many different styles of writing are treated in this book, and each author is riveting.
Gan See Siong
Nov 06, 2011 Gan See Siong rated it it was amazing
The piece by Michael Chabon, "writer, be afraid' is my favourite. Writers shared what motivates them; a verse, a piece of music; anything. The intros by Marie Arana were equally absorbing. It's a book worth many re-reads
Jun 10, 2012 Kirstie rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc
I like this collection better than the similar one compliled by the New York Times called Writers on Writing.
Lucy rated it it was amazing
Aug 28, 2016
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She was born in Peru, moved to the United States at the age of 9, did her B.A. in Russian at Northwestern University, her M.A. in linguistics at Hong Kong University, a certificate of scholarship at Yale University in China, and began her career in book publishing, where she was vice president and senior editor at Harcourt Brace and Simon & Schuster. For more than a decade she was the editor i ...more
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