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The Writer on Her Work

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Seventeen novelists, poets, and writers of nonfiction explore how they have become writers, why they write, and what it means to be a woman and a writer.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 17th 2000 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1980)
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Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
A collection of essays and talks (even an extended poem from Ursula Le Guin) by women on writing. It covers what, why and how they write and what the obstacles are. The contributions are variable in quality, but they are all worth reading. Contributors include Margaret Attwood, Joan Didion, Erica Jong, Alice Walker, Margaret Walker, Anne Tyler, Diane Johnson, Mary Gordon and others. None are more than a dozen or so pages and provide an insight into the minds of the writers. Some are very persona ...more
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Honestly, I don't have much to say about this. It might be because I haven't fully processed some of the essays I read to the point where I can sufficiently talk about them. A lot of the essays acted as a balm to my soul. It was interesting to see that a lot of the struggles women face today are almost the exact same. I wasn't exactly surprised, but it made their words feel even more pressing. ...more
Joan Didion's essay was brilliant (but it wasn't written for this book, just borrowed for it). I enjoyed Anne Tyler's and Gail Godwin's and a few others, but actively did not enjoy quite a number of these pieces for their self-consciousness and preciousness. ...more
Lyna M. Perez
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Overall, it is a great collection with insight on the personal lives of women writers. Some of the essays, though, are overly long. I found one or two of essays painfully boring. However, the few that resonated with me were more than worth wading through the rest.
Isabelle B.L
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The five stars are without a doubt for Anne Tyler's Essay and the heart-wrenching , moving diary entries of Michele Murray. The introductory pages are also motivational and inspiring. A great collection but those two above-mentioned authors are the ones I felt closest to. Their perspective and experience were relatable. ...more
May 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers and Anne Tyler fans
Wonderful essays by women writers (suitable for co-ed reading, of course). My favorite essay, "Still Just Writing," is by one of my favorite authors, Anne Tyler, who aptly describes the challenges of fitting in writing time while raising kids. Tyler was picking up one of her daughters from school one day when someone asked her if she'd gotten a job yet or if she was "still just writing." Amusingly, she describes her characters as extra kids. One gaunt, elderly male character (unnamed, but a typi ...more
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book from the feminist archives that (more or less) holds up today. The collection contains some fantastic writers. It was so wild to see Alice Walker's bio, so early in her career - she'd only published 2 books when this anthology was released! I was really moved by so many of the pieces, which give perspectives on what it is like to create and write, when living the life of a woman. I was so moved by Muriel Rukeyser's piece, in which she describes a very different New York City ...more
Helen King
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I don't know why this took me so long to read - lots of insights and different perspectives on the question 'why I write' from a range of women writers. I particularly enjoyed Margaret Atwood's take (9 different perspectives, depending how the question is understood, Anne Tyler's practical approach of managing to write while focusing on home and child rearing (taking the time available and also how that approach enriches her writing), Josn Didion's reflections (and why I should really look up he ...more
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Published in 1980, this book has a lot of focus on the women’s movement and the challenges of women writers that seem dated when being read 34 years later. No doubt books by more contemporary writers are available. Still some of the entries were very fascinating. The last entry, by Gail Godwin, quotes a passage from Iris Murdoch’s novel The Black Prince, in which a writer says, “Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea. The years pass and one has only one life. If one has a thing at all one mus ...more
Anne Marshall
Mar 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
A good collection of information on women writers. The diaries were the best sections.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
A couple of the essays were good (Anne Tyler, Joan Didion) but others were rather tedious. Writing's work and modern life not designed for it. Check. ...more
Kristy Alley
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aspiring writers
Shelves: womens-studies
This is an excellent book of essays by women writers. Although ostensibly an answer to the question "Why do you write?" many of the essays feel more like memoir, with a few humorous ones thrown in. ...more
A motivating selection of essays written by prominent authors including Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, Erica Jong, Gail Godwin, and Nancy Milford. They discuss what, how and why they write.
Maria Marsello
Given this book when I graduated from High School by an important teacher. I still cherish it...
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: artist-s-heart
Are you a writer? Are you a woman? Get a copy!
Ana Alvarez
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Essential for any writer whose experiences as a woman inform their practice. This book illustrates how writing transforms from a hobby or pleasure into an identity, a form of living.
Jamie Smet
Jan 23, 2014 marked it as to-read
*to read: essays by Anne Tyler and Gail Godwin
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Janet Sternburg is a writer of memoir, essays, poetry and plays, as well as a fine-art photographer. Her books include two memoirs, White Matter: A Memoir of Family and Medicine (Hawthorne Books) and Phantom Limb: A Meditation on Memory (University of Nebraska Press and Foreverland Press), as well as the classic two volumes of The Writer on Her Work (W.W. Norton) described by Poets & Writers as "g ...more

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