The Writing Life

The Writing Life

by Ellen Gilchrist


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The Writing Life by Ellen Gilchrist

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 Some of these pieces have been previously published in magazines, but most are unpublished and all appear here in book form for the first time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781578067398
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Publication date: 02/18/2005
Pages: 226
Sales rank: 1,249,888
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.35(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

Part 1Life
The Middle Way3
The Shakespeare Group13
How Books Still Change Our Lives18
Casting My Lot with the Gypsies24
The Consolations of Art36
The Only Constant Is Change, and Yet, I Still Won't Use a Computer39
How I Got Stronger and Smarter Instead of Stupider and Sadder43
Part 2Writing
How I Wrote a Book of Short Stories in Three Months53
Living in New York City58
The Sinking Ship65
Breaking the Rules69
In the Weather of the Heart72
A Writer Should Be Able to Write Anything75
Everyone Wants to Be a Writer78
"You Always Use Setbacks to Help You Play Better"80
Write What You Know84
Choosing the Books89
Learning to Teach Writing by Watching a Great Dance Teacher92
Crisis in the Creative Writing Program96
Everyone Thinks They Are a Writer99
Why Is Rewriting So Hard?102
Sunday Morning105
Eudora Welty110
Another Hard Thing for a Writer to Learn to Handle113
How I Invented Traceleen119
How to Move Characters from One Place to Another122
How to Become Inspired126
Learning to Teach133
The War with the Squirrels135
What They Write About138
Part 3Teaching
Teaching, A Journal145
Teaching, A Journal (Continued)147
My Third Year152
The Ice Storm164
Creative Nonfiction (as Fiction)167
The Semester from Hell171
Drunks, Dope Addicts, and Losers, Characters My Students Give Me173
How Can I Help These Students Learn to Write?178
Hitting a Snag in the Teaching Game183
Rip Van Winkle and the Unwanted Wings186
Teaching, A Journal (Continued)190
After Six Weeks of Classes195
The Geology Field Trip200
Monday at Dawn204
The Big Question205
The Tar Baby208

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