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Crash Course: Essays From Where Writing and Life Collide

4.63  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Robin Black's path through loss and survival delivered her to the writer's life. Agoraphobia, the challenges of parenting a child with special needs, and the legacy of a formidable father all shaped that journey. In these deeply personal and instructive essays, the author of the internationally acclaimed If I loved you, I would tell you this and Life Drawing explores the m ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Engine Books
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4.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  106 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Leslie Lindsay
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness. This book. Every writer, would-be-writer, aspiring writer, closet-writer, bestselling and debut writer *needs* this book. Trust me. It's like Robin Black crawled inside my head and accessed every single thought I've had about motherhood, the writing life, and the life in writing. It makes me want to be a better writer. And that, right there, is hugely powerful.

CRASH COURSE is an insightful, beautiful, and searingly honest account of the writing life told with wisdom, humor, and
I felt sad when I realized I was nearing the end of these lovely essays. For the time I spent reading them, I was in the company of someone warm, intelligent, understanding, funny. Someone I felt was a friend, even though we'd never met and were unlikely ever to do so.

Robin Black stalled in her writing career for 20 years. She raised a family, including a daughter with special needs and she shares some of the challenges and joys of her life then. She has ADD and she also shares some of the chall
Catherine McKenzie
Robin Black wrote a beautiful novel called Life Drawing which I highly recommend to anyone. This book of essays is an interesting companion piece to that - the background on how it got written, the aftermath of having written it, and her observations on life and writing in general. For both writers and those interested in writers, I highly recommend it.
Nov 22, 2017 added it
Shelves: memoir
Enjoyed this book. Robin Black read some of her fiction at my MFA program at Ashland this summer, and then I found her writing memoir. She touches on many topics in a series of short essays, several of which I bookmarked to read to my classes. She's engaging; it's a quick read because of short sections on many topics, and I loved her defense of adverbs!
Celeste Ng
I wasn’t more than two pages into Crash Course when I pulled out a pen and started underlining like crazy. In these essays, Robin Black is simultaneously a wise teacher, an encouraging mentor, and that friend who gives you the real dirt on what the writing life is like. Crash Course is an invaluable resource and reassurance for any writer.
Sally Koslow
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lucky me: I landed an advance copy of Robin Black's CRASH COURSE: Essays from Where Writing and Life Collide. From the pov of both delighted reader and instructor who helps students polish their essays, this book is a valuable tool. Black writes with honesty matched by good humor. Consider "I've just started to realize how bloody difficult it is, even when you like a book a lot, to find things to say that don't sound like you bought them at the blurb store." and "I am empty now.... Some might ca ...more
Apr 06, 2016 added it
I love Robin Black's essays on writing, and was really excited when I found out this collection was forthcoming. It didn't disappoint.

To my mind, calling Crash Course a "motherhood and writing book" is inaccurate. As a whole, the essays continually push back and forth across the "ought to" and "have to" territories in a writer's life -- something that many writers contend with on a nearly minute-by-minute basis, but don't talk about -- or think about -- beyond self-chastising. Black doesn't so
Nancy LiPetri
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for everyone who has been published and especially for those who hope to make a career and living from writing books, Black shares what it's like to be a professional author with all a writer's idiosyncrasies and paranoias magnified. She tempers it with sane perspective, priceless wisdom for maintaining at least partial sanity. One of my favorite takeaways was from a chapter on rejection: do whatever you have to do, avoid whatever you need to avoid...write, send the work out, write m ...more
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved Robin Black's novel Life Drawing, and reading this book of short essays was like having an intimate conversation about the writing life with a writer I greatly admire. While these essays contain a lot of writing advice, this is less a "how to" writing manual than a personal exploration of Black's growth and development as a writer, struggling also at times to balance personal and family challenges with her career. These essays are honest and sometimes raw, infused with wisdom and often h ...more
Caroline Igra
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a gem of a book. Black's writing is absolutely pitch perfect, so incredibly readable and enjoyable. She uses stories from her own life to elucidate the writing process with all its pitfalls and joys. It's a very personal book while simultaneously a universal guide to anyone serious about writing.
I loved it. Pass it on.
Eva Stachniak
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Robin Black is an inspiration. This poignant and evocative collection of essays on writing and motherhood is a book to pick up when you need a guide through the muddles of writing and/or life.
Lee Ann Dalton
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Robin Black is the writer mentor and friend who gives you hope and kicks your butt into gear all in one go. Fabulous book, one to read often as a refresher.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sharp, insightful essays about writing and life.
Tammy Matthews
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderfully written collection of thoughts on writing, and I had a lot to take away from it, judging by the number of dog-eared pages and underlines I’d made by the end.
Jim Minick
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Many great lines of advice, like "tough skin for career, tender skin for art."
Or the essay on adverbs made me rethink this much-maligned word.
I haven't read all of Black's essays, but I'm going to set this aside for now and perhaps come back and read more later. The opening essay "Something We Share; Something We Don't" is superb. Black compares her own attention to language as a writer with that of her language disordered daughter. Fascinating and tender. I also liked "Collaborative Reader" and "What's Love Got to Do With It." The subtitle of the collection captures the approach Black takes in these essays of describing how life info ...more
Sophfronia Scott
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You're a writer? You want to be a writer? You want to know what the writing life is all about? Get this book. Read it. Period. You must.

In Crash Course: Essays From Where Writing and Life Collide, author Robin Black delivers unvarnished truth about what it's like to make one's way in the writing world. She'll let you know there is jealousy and paralyzing fear of failure and waiting for a beloved relative to die before you can write a single word. There's ADD and a messy house and children in nee
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Crash Course isn’t a book of advice, so much as it is the author saying, “Here’s what worked for me, and here’s where I made mistakes.” As someone who published her first book in midlife and didn’t write for twenty years during what she calls the “Dark Ages,” perhaps the biggest lesson Black offers is to get past the fear of beginning to write, because “losing decades of your life to such fears leaves a very deep scar.”

Because this book travels from a period of not writing all the way through to
Theodore McCombs
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've read a number of writing and craft books, and usually finish them having found one or two good ideas, but never feeling exactly helped; Robin Black's essays, in great contrast, are wildly, exorbitantly helpful. More than any philosophy of writing, her sharp-eyed and honest insights into the frustrating experience of creating art--of wanting badly to put together something beautiful and the complex crazy that entails--are inspiring, moving, and deeply useful. There is no lack of craft chapte ...more
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read Robin Black's book in 3 days, not because it's a "simple" read. I have marked pages with ink and pencil. I've folded multiple pages. She's not only a compelling essayist but also an outstanding teacher of writing itself. Her essay, "A Life of Profound Uncertainty" will make its way to my family and non-writer friends within a week. In it, she somehow finds a way to explain how once we choose to be writers, we are full of "don't knows" that people in other lines of work never face. She mad ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that I appreciated as a reader, loved as a writer, and will use as a writing teacher. Robin Black weaves personal and craft issues in a manner that braid them so perfectly the craft lessons become all the more useful. I highly recommend this book--and you don't need to be a writer to be fascinated.
Joanne Kelly
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. I was touched by Robin Black's honesty, her willingness to share painful experiences, her wisdom about life and about writing. One of my favorite lines: "Taking the time to work something through with someone who has hurt you, rather than just giving up, is itself a loving thing thing to do."
Shilpi Gowda
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
CRASH COURSE is the book that should be in the hands of every writer, aspiring or established. It is packed with such wisdom, humor and raw power, I know I will keep returning to it. Robin Black has had the courage to rip open her soul and reflect upon a life's experience, and the unflinching generosity to share it with us.
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb, interior view of the writing life.

This was not a conventional writing craft book, rather a deeply personal exploration of the path toward and through that life. So much of it resonated with me.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This collection of craft essay/memoir collage ranks with classics like Anne Lamont's Bird By Bird and Stephen King's On Writing. I've read several of the essays in their original publications and they are still resonate and wise on second reading.
Erika Dreifus
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-related
This book was sitting on my Kindle way too long. I'm sorry I didn't manage to get to it sooner.
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you're a writer in any capacity, read this. Especially if you're a female writer.
Lynne Griffin
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Marvelous essays on living a writing life.
Mary Lou
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book of essays. Anyone who feels like they are alone in the writing life will enjoy Crash Course.
Lee Weinstein
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book about writing and about life. Robin is an exquisite, generous writer. If you love the written word, this is a rich chocolate.
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