Gracefully and simply told, these little stories illuminate the writing life. Otherwise the book is epic. It is the beginning of a work that the writer throws away. From where I stood, which was in her house on campus during a barbecue at the end of the semester, it looked like the best possible life a writer could have. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern. Great and enviable things were happening for me.
After a failed well, 17,165 words, which was excellent for me, but not the 50,000 word target attempt at NaNoWriMo and a push from my nonfiction prof, I was doubting my process and this little aside in The Writing Life reminded me that my process is my own. I love a little and while I am writing. Neighborly advice is unintentional, however. I read them all carefully, turning the pages around to follow the writing to the back page, where I found, at the end, this postscript: I was up all night thinking about this. Afterward, I could do nothing right.
Courage utterly opposes the bold hope that this is such fine stuff the work needs it, or the world. Pithy, smart and wise, one will emerge from this book for the better. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark. Even, and in my case, most especially, amnesiac. The strain … enlivens the work and impels it toward its truest end.
Do not leave it, do not course over it, as if it were understood, but instead follow it down until you see it in the mystery of its own specificity and strength. In the cutting and cutting and the move this here, put this at the beginning, this belongs on page six , I learned that the first three pages of a draft are usually where you clear your throat, that most times, the place your draft begins is around page four. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. Bubbles came up on the water. Sometimes the writer leaves his early chapters in place from gratitude; he cannot contemplate them or read them without feeling again the blessed relief that exalted him when the words first appeared—relief that he was writing anything at all. Dillard moves back and forth between musing about writing and metaphors for writing. Do you have a typewriter, he asked.
I think Annie Dillard is a great writer. Annie Dillard's impassioned plea for the writing life is as hypnotic as it is tangible. I got this exercise from Samuel Johnson, she told us, who believed in a lively page, and used to count his verbs. She has published works of poetry, essays, prose, and literary criticism, as well as two novels and one memoir. It's not a book that tells you how to write.
If you find any joy and value in what I do, please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good lunch. A kind of stream of consciousness on the writing process and memories of various writing haunts Annie Dillard has prowled around in procrastination, waiting for sentences to arrive unbidden. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. Throughout this section, the author's emphasis is on the intense work it takes to craft a piece of writing, exploring the agonies of distraction and avoidance she and other writers put themselves through, the views of non-writers on the writing process, and how the struggle to create distills into the torturous creation of simple, but perfect, sentences. Can I borrow it, he asked.
Okay, I remember telling myself. Still, I believe the writing process is as individual as the products should be. Then I hunt some more until sundown, bathe again, put on white tie and tails to keep up appearances, eat a huge dinner, smoke a cigar and sleep like a log until the sun comes up again to redden the eastern sky. Every inchworm I have seen was stuck in long. Stunt pilots write poetry in the sky with their loops and spins. I feel virtuous as I kick it into the gutter.
I could feel the amount of struggle that goes into her writing, almost in every line, and personally I feel like it saps some of the power from her work when you can almost feel that each every sentence has been crafted over and pounded into 'perfection'. Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so that we may feel again their majesty and power? Try and tell someone how to feel. Stephen King and Dorothea Brande have more helpful and interesting books on the writing life. I need the room to scribble notes in between your sentences, she said. When she asks him how he's doing with his work, he tells a long story that ultimately leads up to one simple thought, making me question why this story was even needed in a book about writing.
Some people lift cars, too. Something more will arise for later, something better. Otherwise it would already exist. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? It's a combination of small excerpts from her life with some random prose thrown in. She counts a life spent reading as a good one, though her fascination with bugs and rocks and stars draws her outside. No one likes to be told how to feel about something. Dillard is a miner of meaningful truths from the ordinary world—her prose is fierce, invigorating, and unrelentingly beautiful.
Instead she gives us a brilliant look at the life that one writer leads. During visiting hours, I enter its room with dread and sympathy for its many disorders. Life is a tender piece of show not tell. Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our heats? Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis This short book by renowned novelist Annie Dillard explores her perspective on the practice of being a writer. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients.