The Spirit of Writing: Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life

Overview

In The Spirit of Writing, renowned authors reflect on the joys and frustrations of the writing life. With contributions from such celebrated writers as Mark Twain, Anais Nin, Annie Dillard, and Stephen King, this unique anthology offers a rare glimpse into the inner world of the writer.

Here is a wealth of insight on matters both practical and emotional: from Janet Fitch on how she kept her creativity alive before her novel won Oprah's seal of approval, to Anne Lamott on the ...

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Overview

In The Spirit of Writing, renowned authors reflect on the joys and frustrations of the writing life. With contributions from such celebrated writers as Mark Twain, Anais Nin, Annie Dillard, and Stephen King, this unique anthology offers a rare glimpse into the inner world of the writer.

Here is a wealth of insight on matters both practical and emotional: from Janet Fitch on how she kept her creativity alive before her novel won Oprah's seal of approval, to Anne Lamott on the difficulty of first drafts, to Octavio Paz on the mystery and language of words. Mark Robert Waldman has gathered sixty essays that reveal the daily struggles -- and rewards -- that novelists, journalists, poets, and other writers face. These elegant meditations offer comfort and inspiration for the countless people for whom writing is a way of life.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
As Harriet Lerner remarks: “Writing is so difficult that I sometimes wonder what motivates writers to write.” In this collection of journal entries, essays, poems, and manifestoes, a slew of brainy wordsmiths explain what motivates them to stare down the snow-blind page, imprint words, and, audaciously, leave them there. “I write for revenge,” swaggers Bob Shacocis. “I write to leave footsteps,” answers Sindiwe Magona. “To be honest with what I know and have known,” argues Sylvia Plath. “To be true to my own weirdness.”

For those of us who sometimes wonder why we write, Mark Waldman’s thick collection offers various reasons to keep going, to keep practicing, to be there when the magic comes. The book includes all kinds of writing about writing: The pieces are sometimes lovely, sometimes thought-provoking and, at times, downright weird. But each one stops us from hiding in the Lonely Idiot feeling; each one proves that, in fact, others write and think and feel stupid too. And as many of these authors insist, that feeling actually produces good words. “Who will teach me to write? The page, the page, that eternal blackness, the blankness of eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time’s scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity,” Annie Dillard says, “the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch but touching it nevertheless.” This book records and celebrates how we create. It affirms what we know to be so: writing is a personal triumph, and it matters. (Jesse Gale)

Publishers Weekly
Therapist, writer and creativity expert Mark Waldman (Love Games) offers The Spirit of Writing: Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life, including five dozen pieces by luminaries like Joseph Conrad, Erica Jong, Sylvia Plath, Henry Miller and Octavio Paz. In "Man Eats Car," Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) declares, "Writing is everything, unconditional.... If you think big enough to let people eat cars, you will be able to see that ants are elephants and men are women." Pierre Joris (Poasis) poeticizes the "interface between language and the world": "it becomes clear that this letter fell off on its own accord somehow & that it is in the gap between mother-tongue/other-tongue that I am written. This gap, this emptiness, is liable to take my breath away." This anthology will provide writers of all stripes with guidance and inspiration for their psyche and their craft. (Aug. 27) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This collection of essays explores the inner lives of writers, giving a glimpse into the creative mind. A therapist specializing in the creative process, Waldman has chosen essays from such well-known authors as Mark Twain, Sylvia Plath, Annie Dillard, Erica Jong, and Joseph Conrad, along with others published here for the first time. These essayists discuss their challenges and triumphs, recall cherished memories, and offer advice to beginners. Author and artist Laura Cerwinske talks about how writing helped her out of depression, Anne Lamott explains how she moves beyond her terrible first drafts, and Gail Godwin learns to overcome her inner critic, the Watcher, who appears every time she sits down to compose. While books about writers and the creative process abound, this collection stands out because of the large and varied number of artists represented and the secrets they reveal about how and why they write. The book will be invaluable for those who aspire to write as well as for all who love language and reading. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585421275
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/23/2001
  • Series: New Consciousness Reader Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction xix
Part 1 Living the Writing Life
Introduction 3
1 Clawing at Stones 7
2 Writing for Revenge 14
3 Ruining the Page 17
4 Watcher at the Gate 20
5 Mistress 24
6 And a Cold Voice Says, "What Have You Done?" 26
7 Sylvia's Honey 29
8 Alas, Madness! 36
9 How to Write Like Tom Robbins 38
10 Streckfuss 45
11 "Littery" Men 55
12 Congratulations! It's a Six Pound Eight Ounce Novel 60
13 Confessions of a Humorist 66
14 I Am a Writer 76
15 Writing as Practice 80
16 Writing as a Healing Art--Two Stories 83
17 Of Goods and Goodwill 88
18 At Its Best 93
19 Of Starships and Dragons' Claws 96
20 True Sentences 101
Part 2 Memories and Inspirations from the Past
Introduction 107
21 My Grandmother on My Shoulder 111
22 Extracts from a Journal 114
23 The Capes of Anays Nin 119
24 My Life as a Fly 126
25 Without Wings 136
26 The Leaf Shape Remains 146
27 Discovering the Habit of Poetry 152
28 Kill the Buddha-What I Learned from Chinese Poetry 158
29 Getting It 167
30 Horsefeathers! 170
31 Chemistry, History, and a Passion to Write 173
32 Writing for Children 180
33 To Fly Without Wings 184
34 A Storyteller's Soul 187
Part 3 Advice to Writers Young and Old
Introduction 195
35 Letter to a Young Poet 199
36 A Sure-Fire Cure for Writer's Block 203
37 Poetic Medicine 205
38 It's Not the Money 208
39 The Great Writer 213
40 The "Right" Way to Write 217
41 The Courage to Write 220
42 When? Why? What? Where? Answers to Questions Inevitably Asked 225
43 Be Careless, Be Reckless, Be a Lion or a Pirate When You Write 229
44 Man Eats Car 232
45 Shitty First Drafts 234
46 A Writer's Best Friend 238
47 The Fortune Cookie That Saved My Life 241
48 Coming In Second 245
49 If You Could Write One Great Poem, What Would You Want It To Be About? 248
Part 4 Bending the Muse and Breaking the Rules
Introduction 253
50 That Voice! 258
51 The Story of My Printing Press 260
52 Write! 263
53 Membrane Porous 266
54 This Could Be the First Day of the Rest of My Life 271
55 How Do I Number the Pages? 276
56 Proem 280
57 [W][O][R][D] [P][L][A][Y] 282
58 L'Langualuxe 283
59 Dreaming a Story 291
60 The Case of the Missing "M" 295
61 Not a Case of Writing 298
Last Words: Faulkner and Steinbeck on Writing 301
Permissions 303
About the Editor 309
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2001

    An Amazing Collection of Essays On Writing

    THE SPIRIT OF WRITING offers inspiration to writers everywhere by getting into the minds of a diverse selection of classic and contemporary authors, including Steinbeck, Twain, Stephen King, Henry Miller, Robert Pinsky and more. I'm more than proud to have a piece called 'Getting It' right there amidst such literary legends, and I'm keeping the book handy to re-read often. For anyone who loves books or who wants to write them, don't miss THE SPIRIT OF WRITING.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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