What I Learned From Reading Writers’ Memoirs

When I was a kid dreaming of becoming a writer (my role model was Jo March from Little Women), I didn’t have access to writing workshops or to any kind of constructive criticism. It didn’t help that I never shared my writing with anyone. But I wanted to know if my writing was any good and I wanted to learn to be better. I read a lot, but couldn’t build a bridge between the novels that I loved and my own writing. I didn’t have the tools or knowledge to make comparisons. I didn’t know how to read closely because…

9 Books About Writing That All Aspiring Writers Will Love

“Writing itself is always bad enough, but writing about writing is surely worse, in the futility department.” — Margaret Atwood Why do some people write, when others do not? When a writer is hunched over his desk in an empty room, dreaming up stories that never happened and will never happen, why is he doing it? Why is writing her response to the world, to life? What is this peculiar compulsion to write about the world? Annie Dillard said that a shoe salesman is more useful than writers, because everyone needs shoes more. And it’s not as if writing is always so enjoyable,…

Cover Your Tracks: Annie Dillard on Why Much of What You Write Will (And Should) Be Discarded

What does a writer have in common with a shoe salesman? A shoe salesman is less free, but more useful to society. “A shoe salesman – who is doing others’ tasks, who must answer to two or three bosses, who must do his job their way, and must put himself in their hands, at their place, during their hours – is nevertheless working usefully. Further, if the shoe salesman fails to appear one morning, someone will notice and miss him.” Annie Dillard begins her brilliant writing guide with advice that is hard to accept. All writers, she says, must discard…