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

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

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by Meredith Maran, Isabel Allende
     
 

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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

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

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“If writing were illegal I’d be in prison. I can’t not write. It’s a compulsion.” —David Baldacci

“When I’m writing... I’m living in two different dimensions: this life I’m living now…and this completely other world I’m inhabiting that no one else knows about.” —Jennifer Egan

“Every story is a seed inside of me that starts to grow and grow, like a tumor, and I have to deal with it sooner or later.” —Isabel Allende

“In the beginning, it was that sense of losing time. Now…I have the sense that I can biff the world a bit. I can exert a force.” —Michael Lewis

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452298156
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/29/2013
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
513,021
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“In the beginning, it was that sense of losing time. Now…I have the sense that I can biff the world a bit. I can exert a force.” —Michael Lewis

Meet the Author

Meredith Maran, a passionate reader and writer of memoirs, is the author of thirteen nonfiction books and the acclaimed 2012 novel, A Theory Of Small Earthquakes. Meredith also writes book reviews, essays, and features for newspapers and magazines including People, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, Salon.com, and More. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, Meredith lives in a restored historic bungalow in Los Angeles, and on Twitter at @meredithmaran. Her next memoir, about starting over in Los Angeles, will be out from Blue Rider Press in 2017.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
San Rafael, California
Date of Birth:
August 2, 1942
Place of Birth:
Lima, Peru
Website:
http://www.isabelallende.com

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Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
DoranneLongPTMS More than 1 year ago
Fascinating to read about famous authors with their joys and struggles. I was astounded at some of the common themes, the life-long journeys of putting pen to paper, the insecurities of some of the most famous, even when millions of their books sold. One of my favorite finds in the book from  Michael Lewis: (No website, Facebook page, or Twitter account. "I have enough to do.")
MichaelTravisJasper More than 1 year ago
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”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago