We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop

Overview


We Wanted to be Writers is a rollicking and insightful blend of original interviews, commentary, advice, gossip, anecdotes, analyses, history, and asides with nearly thirty graduates and teachers at the now legendary Iowa Writers' Workshop between 1974 and 1978. Among the talents that emerged in those years-writing, criticizing, drinking, and debating in the classrooms and barrooms of Iowa City-were the younger versions of writers who became John Irving, Jane Smiley, T. C. Boyle, Michelle Huneven, Allan ...
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We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop

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Overview


We Wanted to be Writers is a rollicking and insightful blend of original interviews, commentary, advice, gossip, anecdotes, analyses, history, and asides with nearly thirty graduates and teachers at the now legendary Iowa Writers' Workshop between 1974 and 1978. Among the talents that emerged in those years-writing, criticizing, drinking, and debating in the classrooms and barrooms of Iowa City-were the younger versions of writers who became John Irving, Jane Smiley, T. C. Boyle, Michelle Huneven, Allan Gurganus, Sandra Cisneros, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jennie Fields, Joy Harjo, Joe Haldeman, and many others. It is chock full of insights and a treasure trove of inspiration for all writers, readers, history lovers, and anyone who ever "wanted to be a writer."

Jane Smiley on the Iowa writers' workshop: "In that period, the teachers tended to be men of a certain age, with the idea that competition was somehow the key-the Norman Mailer period. The story was that if you disagreed with Norman, or gave him a bad review, he'd punch you in the nose. You were supposed to get in fights in restaurants."

T.C. Boyle on his short story "Drowning": "I got $25 for it, which was wonderful . . . You know, getting $25 for the product of your own brain? You could buy a lot of beer in Iowa City back then for that."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602397354
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/16/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 943,472
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Olsen is a journalist and graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He directed the U.S. branch of the International Institute of Modern Letters and created the first American City of Asylum, which provided a safe haven for persecuted writers. He was also an executive editor at Time Inc. Health, a Time Warner company. This is his sixth book.

Glenn Schaeffer was, for twenty years, president of Mandalay Resort Group in Las Vegas. In 2009, Liberty Media rated him as the gaming industry's most influential executive, after Steve Wynn. Schaeffer is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and he's finally finishing a novel he started there thirty years ago, Holy Shaker.

Bill Manhire is a professor at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in Wellington, New
Zealand, where he resides.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Note iv

Acknowledgments v

Introduction: Aiding and Abetting 1

Part 1 To Begin, To Begin 7

Chapter 1 The Creative Enterprise 8

Chapter 2 What Possessed Us? 16

Chapter 3 We Were So Damn Polite 58

Part 2 Community, Craft, and "Learning" Literature 89

Chapter 4 Say Yes! To Everything 90

Chapter 5 Light the Torches! Get the Monster! 147

Chapter 6 The Craft Thing 203

Part 3 Thoughts on Success and Failure 247

Chapter 7 Heartbreak and Mono 248

About the Contributors 307

Endnotes 332

Index 334

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