Henry Miller on Writing
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Henry Miller on Writing

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  636 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Some of the most rewarding pages in Henry Miller's books concern his self-education as a writer. He tells, as few great writers ever have, how he set his goals, how he discovered the excitement of using words, how the books he read influenced him, and how he learned to draw on his own experience.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published February 1st 1964 by New Directions Publishing
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Bird by Bird by Anne LamottOn Writing by Stephen KingWriting Down the Bones by Natalie GoldbergThe Right to Write by Julia CameronWild Mind by Natalie Goldberg
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15th out of 62 books — 20 voters
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76th out of 94 books — 16 voters


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David Lentz
Henry Miller is one intrepid soul. For me this reading entailed discerning the echoes of the interior of a soul of a brother, a kindred spirit. He articulates creative impulses forged from the smithy of his own rough experience through years of rejection in America and poverty in Paris. Like so many other genius writers Miller was willing to give up every material comfort and to suffer in dire poverty for the sake of his art. He left America to live and suffer in Paris in search of his own artis...more
Lynda Felder
There’s no way to summarize the magnificent writings and incredible ideas in this book. Here are a few passages.

from “Why Don’t You Try to Write”

The little phrase — Why don’t you try to write? — involved me, as it had from the very beginning, in a hopeless bog of confusion. I wanted to enchant but not to enslave; I wanted a greater, richer life, but not at the expense of others; I wanted to free the imagination of all men at once because without the support of the whole world, without a world o...more
Tank Green
this man is the beginning and the end for me.

'Looking back on my career, I see myself as a person capable of undertaking almost any task, any vocation. It was the monotony and sterility of the other outlets which drove me to desperation. I demanded a realm in which I should be both master and slave at the same time: the world of art is the only such realm.' p. 114
Laura
I bought this book in an airport on my way to Arizona and read it in one day. Heavy stuff with the autobiographical tone of the book and emphasis on seemingly random pieces of his life, but I loved it. I was offended by his treatment of women, but I felt that finally someone wasn't walking on eggshells. i was young when I read it, but I still remember quotes and have dog eared pages. It's a book I've recommended highly, but have never been able to part with it long enough to loan it out. "He and...more
Clifford
While reading the books that this collection was taken from is the best way to experience Mr. Miller, this collection is excellent for the beginner or for the Miller fan. It allows those inclined to write (who shouldn't be inclined to write!?) to find those words of advice and encouragement in one place. This book could have been twice as long, but remains short enough to catch Miller's burning intensity while catching a fire within one's self.
Elliott
Essential for not only the writer and artist, but also the reader in all of us. In one section he refers to his own creative life as, "hurtling toward the stellar flux." Passages that are filled with a density of groundbreaking diction as well as a mystic quality that is quintessentially Henry Miller. If you like his work, want to live a creative life or breathe air and can read then read this book.
Katie
"i was so in love with the idea of being a writer that i could scarcely write...i wore myself out in preparation. It was impossible for me to sit down quietly and just turn on the flow; I was dancing inside. I wanted to describe the world i knew and be in it at the same time. It never occurred to me that with just two or three hours of steady work a day i could write the thickest book imaginable. It was my brief that if a [person] day down to write [they] should remain glued to [their] seat for...more
Jess
This was a little difficult for me to sink my teeth into. The thing about Miller's writing that I usually enjoy is the ebb and flow of it, the descriptive passages of life punctuated by the more philosophical and metaphysical musings, which stand out like gleaming heads-up newly-minted pennies on the sidewalk to be picked up and put in your pocket for your restless fingers to play with while you're walking or waiting for the subway. This book is a collection of all intense passages, and without...more
Ben
Apr 03, 2007 Ben rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: failed writers
I carried a dog-eared copy of this collection of Henry Miller's writings on writing around with me for years. I had underlined big chunks of virtually every page. The man is eminently quotable and his prose is incredibly meaty.

My ex-girlfriend's cat peed on my first copy and I immediately went out to buy another one.

I left the second copy on the counter at a Korean grocery in Portland. I had taken it out of my bag to make room for a 6-pack of PBR tallboys and forgot to put it back in. I went b...more
Brendan
Considering that the bulk of Miller's best writing deals with the story of how he set out to become a writer, a collection of his work dealing with writing can do little wrong, in my book. There are truly few other writers who could discuss the act of writing who I'd really want to read.
Cari
I'm standing basically alone here, judging from other reviewers, but Henry Miller on Writing did very little for me. No spark for me, no engagement. Maybe my experience comes from having read many of his other works, thus meaning I've already read many of the pieces contained in this one.
Sasha
May 28, 2013 Sasha rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All creative types and thinkers
Recommended to Sasha by: Abdias Garcia
Shelves: favorites
Though it appears a short book, this is NOT a quick read. With every turn of the page, I found myself pausing to think, re-read, make notes. The excellent insight and incredible interpretations of the everyday were not to be read, but rather digested. A favorite for sure.
Scott Gibson
An excellent collection of excerpts corroborating the fact that Henry Miller will always be one of the most influential writers I'll ever read.
Philip Bellew
If you're an aspiring writer, this is the one to read. Miller's command of language is awe-inspiring.
Jaymi Boswell
Apr 15, 2008 Jaymi Boswell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tawny and Jennifer.
Recommended to Jaymi by: The guy at the used bookstore.
Shelves: non-fiction
Besides Stephen King's 'on writing' this is my favorite. I love Henry Miller. He's the perfect fit.
Tim Weakley
A little tough to get through near the end. Miller can be a little heavy in spots.
Paloma Etienne
He is wonderful, although I sometimes had to get him used to me ;-)
Peetza
A great book for aspiring writers.
Ed Teja
Wonderful insights.
Kate
A Gift from Shannon on my fortieth birthday, purchased at The Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. Lucid and deep...
Inter N.
A real 'whale' of a tale.
Minke Y.
A real “whale” of a tale.
Jerry Doughan
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Henry Miller sought to reestablish the freedom to live without the conventional restraints of civilization. His books are potpourris of sexual description, quasi-philosophical speculation, reflection on literature and society, surrealistic imaginings, and autobiographical incident.

After living in Paris in the 1930s, he returned to the United States and settled in Big Sur, Calif. Miller's first tw...more
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“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself.

”I began in absolute chaos and darkness, in a bog or swamp of ideas and emotions and experiences. Even now I do not consider myself a writer, in the ordinary sense of the word. I am a man telling the story of his life, a process which appears more and more inexhaustible as I go on. Like the world-evolution, it is endless. It is a turning inside out, a voyaging through X dimensions, with the result that somewhere along the way one discovers that what one has to tell is not nearly so important as the telling itself. It is this quality about all art which gives it a metaphysical hue, which lifts it out of time and space and centers or integrates it to the whole cosmic process. It is this about art which is ‘therapeutic’: significance, purposefulness, infinitude.

”From the very beginning almost I was deeply aware that there is no goal. I never hope to embrace the whole, but merely to give in each separate fragment, each work, the feeling of the whole as I go on, because I am digging deeper and deeper into life, digging deeper and deeper into past and future. With the endless burrowing a certitude develops which is greater than faith or belief. I become more and more indifferent to my fate, as writer, and more and more certain of my destiny as a man.”
69 likes
“...the art of living involves the act of creation. The work of art is nothing. It is only the tangible, visible evidence of a way of life, which, if it is not crazy is certainly different from the accepted way of life... For the artist to attach himself to his work, or identify himself with it, is suicidal.” 8 likes
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