Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do

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Overview

Twenty of America's bestselling authors share tricks, tips, and secrets of the successful writing ...

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Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do

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Overview

Twenty of America's bestselling authors share tricks, tips, and secrets of the successful writing life.

Anyone who's ever sat down to write a novel or even a story knows how exhilarating and heartbreaking writing can be. So what makes writers stick with it? In Why We Write, twenty well-known authors candidly share what keeps them going and what they love most—and least—about their vocation.

Contributing authors include:
Isabel Allende
David Baldacci
Jennifer Egan
James Frey
Sue Grafton
Sara Gruen
Kathryn Harrison
Gish Jen
Sebastian Junger
Mary Karr
Michael Lewis
Armistead Maupin
Terry McMillan
Rick Moody
Walter Mosley
Susan Orlean
Ann Patchett
Jodi Picoult
Jane Smiley
Meg Wolitzer

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Most writers are too busy writing to wonder about why they write. So editor Meredith Maran did the obvious: She asked twenty prominent authors to write about how they do it, why they do it, and what aspects they most love and hate. Obvious, her quarries found the query compelling: Among those answering are Isabel Allende, David Baldacci, Rick Moody, Jodi Picoult, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, Gish Jen, Mary Karr, and Sebastian Junger. Stimulating thoughts for readers and writers.

Kirkus Reviews
A rich, informative essay collection based on interviews with 20 prominent authors seeking to answer the question: "Why do writers write?" Whether as an avocation or a profession, writing "promises only poverty, rejection and self-doubt," writes veteran book critic and author Maran (A Theory of Small Earthquakes, 2012, etc.). As the editor points out, however, this fact does not stop people from writing and trying to publish their manuscripts, only 1 percent of which will ever see print. So what drives individuals to engage in this constantly frustrating endeavor? Maran posed the question to writers who seemed to have what every writer could ever want: "[m]illions or billions of fans worldwide . . . [and] full creative freedom." Isabelle Allende and David Baldacci write from an obsessive need to tell stories. Kathryn Harrison explains that "it's the only thing I know that offers the hope of proving myself worthy of love." Armistead Maupin writes that "it's a way of processing my disasters, sorting out the messiness of life to lend symmetry and meaning to it." Maran's subjects include authors who have received both popular and critical acclaim, and she includes details about how each author found a place in the literary sun. She also delves into how they approach the task of recording their stories and presents their writing tips. The wisdom these luminaries offer sometimes, and perhaps inevitably, borders on the obvious or banal: "You have to simply love writing," writes Susan Orleans. But more often than not, that wisdom is as sharp-eyed and candid as Sue Grafton's observation that "[b]anging out a single book, then thinking you're ready to give up your day job and be a full-time writer, is the equivalent of learning to play ‘Three Blind Mice' on the piano and then expecting to be booked into Carnegie Hall." A fun, enlightening read for writers and book lovers alike.
Library Journal
Seeking to crack the mystery of why writers write, Maran (My Lie) interviewed 20 acclaimed writers and asked "why?" of each of them, also asking for their best and worst moments as writers, and the advice they would give to aspiring authors. Their descriptions of working life include a few elements that are strikingly similar from writer to writer, e.g., that it is both necessary to write, and terrifying to start a new book. The authors included here are all award winners (each entry includes a boxed "stats" section), and include Jennifer Egan, James Frey, Sara Gruen, Terry McMillan, Walter Mosley, and Jodi Picoult. VERDICT One could gain a lot of inspiration from this book, but also be rather discouraged at staring so much success in the face. This exercise has been done before, but this collection's organization makes it useful at a glance. A solid addition to writers' reference collections.—Linda White, Maplewood, MN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452298156
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 360,565
  • Product dimensions: 5.41 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

 Meredith Maran is the author of nine nonfiction books and the acclaimed novel A Theory of Small Earthquakes. She's been writer-in-residence at UCLA and the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, and a fellow at Yaddo, among other artist colonies. Her writing appears regularly in the Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and People.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I read this book rather quickly. Some books about writing can be

    I read this book rather quickly. Some books about writing can be too academic for my taste. However, this one presented the information in a format that was fun and easy to get through. These types of compilations often feature mostly authors I don’t know. This book included a number of my favorites. As a writer myself, it is always fascinating to peek into the minds and experiences of successful authors.
    Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel “To Be Chosen”

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    Posted December 16, 2013

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