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The Writing Life
     

The Writing Life

by Ellen Gilchrist
 

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Celebrated author Ellen Gilchrist has played many roles-writer and speaker, wife and lover, mother and grandmother. But she never tackled the role of teacher.

Offered the opportunity to teach creative writing at the University of Arkansas, she took up the challenge and ventured into unknown territory. In the process of teaching more than two hundred students

Overview

Celebrated author Ellen Gilchrist has played many roles-writer and speaker, wife and lover, mother and grandmother. But she never tackled the role of teacher.

Offered the opportunity to teach creative writing at the University of Arkansas, she took up the challenge and ventured into unknown territory. In the process of teaching more than two hundred students since her first class in 2000, she has found inspiration in their lives and ambitions and in the challenge of conveying to them the lessons she has learned from living and writing.

The Writing Life brings together fifty essays and vignettes centered on the transforming magic of literature and the teaching and writing of it. A portion of the collection discusses the delicate balance between an artistic life and family commitments, especially the daily pressures and frequent compromises faced by a young mother. Gilchrist next focuses on the process of writing itself with essays ranging from "How I Wrote a Book of Short Stories in Three Months" to "Why Is Rewriting so Hard?"

Several essays discuss her appreciation of other writers, from Shakespeare to Larry McMurtry, and the lessons she learned from them. Eudora Welty made an indelible impact on Gilchrist's work. When Gilchrist takes on the task of teaching, her essays reveal an enriched understanding of the role writing plays in any life devoted to the craft. Humorous and insightful, she assesses her own abilities as an instructor and confronts the challenge of inspiring students to attain the discipline and courage to pursue the sullen art. Some of these pieces have been previously published in magazines, but most are unpublished and all appear here in book form for the first time.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“It is, simply, a beautiful book. Beautiful in its lucid, limpid eloquence; in the remarkable wisdom about human nature it displays; and in its delicious cocktail of sarcastic humor, disarming candor, and face-slapping intelligence . . . This gathering of her thoughts speaks to anyone for whom the written word is one of life’s primary joys.”

—Brad Hooper, Booklist starred review

“In this collection of wry and poised autobiographical essays, most previously unpublished, National Book Award winner Gilchrist (Victory Over Japan, etc.) is disarmingly direct . . . Gilchrist’s droll, optimistic and seasoned voice is irresistible. A final series of pithy essays focuses on her adaptation to academia late in life; she enthralls with witty, tender observations of her writing students’ progress. Gilchrist’s love of life, her tireless work ethic and her self-assured sense of fun and folly shine in this vital and inspiring collection.”

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
In this collection of wry and poised autobiographical essays, most previously unpublished, National Book Award winner Gilchrist (Victory over Japan, etc.) is disarmingly direct in evoking herself as a trapped young wife and mother who returned to college, studied under Eudora Welty and became involved in the New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Miss., during the civil rights era, a turning point in her eventual "escape from the bourgeoisie." She writes frankly and without self-loathing about overcoming alcoholism, and reflects on the powerful influence of her disciplined, sporty father, drawing analogies between tennis and writing, coaching and teaching. She tells of writing her first published book of stories, In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, in three months and of how its publication coincided with the birth of her first grandchild. Affording insights into her writing process, including the necessary evil of letting down friends and family in order to put writing first, Gilchrist's droll, optimistic and seasoned voice is irresistible. A final series of pithy essays focuses on her adaptation to academia late in life; she enthralls with witty, tender observations of her writing students' progress. Gilchrist's love of life, her tireless work ethic and her self-assured sense of fun and folly shine in this vital and inspiring collection. Agent, Susan Ramer of Don Congdon and Assoc. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781578067398
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
Publication date:
02/18/2005
Pages:
226
Sales rank:
899,673
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.35(d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Gilchrist, Fayetteville, Arkansas, is the author of many novels and collections of essays, short stories, and novellas, including The Cabal and Other Stories, Flights of Angels, The Age of Miracles, The Courts of Love, In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, Victory Over Japan (winner of the National Book Award), Drunk with Love, Ellen Gilchrist: Collected Stories, and I, Rhoda Manning, Go Hunting with My Daddy.

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