- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (Aug. 26 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780345440464
- ISBN-13: 978-0345440464
- ASIN: 0345440463
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 20.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,046,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers Paperback – Aug 26 2003
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“This guide to literary success is wonderfully original and smart and funny and down-to-earth—just what desperate beginning writers desperately need.”
“This is a terrific and extremely useful book for anyone who wants to write. Carolyn See is brilliant and funny, crabby and tender and wise.”
“Wise, witty, practical, mordant, funny, this is the only guide to becoming a writer that may actually work. It’s a primer on Carolyn See: great artist, large soul.”
“Carolyn See doesn’t just tell you to sharpen your pencils, she shows you how to sharpen your wits.”
—Rita Mae Brown
“After reading Making a Literary Life, I have decided to abandon my present career and become an aspirant writer, this time guided by Carolyn See’s wonderfully instructive (and readable) book.”
—William F. Buckley, Jr.
“Carolyn See has been giving me lessons on writing and living since my first book came out, and when Carolyn See talks, I obey. I bow down in gratitude. We should rejoice at this serious, joyful, irreverent, and very practical book.”
“If everyone who wants to be a writer would read this book there would be many more good writers, many more happy writers, and editors would be so overwhelmed by sweetness they would accept many more good books. So what are you waiting for? Read it!”
—Ursula K. Le Guin
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
As Carolyn See says, writing guides are like preachers on Sunday--there may be a lot of them, but you can't have too many, and there's always an audience of the faithful. And while Making a Literary Life is ostensibly a book that teaches you how to write, it really teaches you how to make your interior life into your exterior life, how to find and join that community of like-minded souls you're sure is out there somewhere.
Carolyn See distills a lifetime of experience as novelist, memoirist, critic, and creative-writing professor into this marvelously engaging how-to book. Partly the nuts and bolts of writing (plot, point of view, character, voice) and partly an inspirational guide to living the life you dream of, Making a Literary Life takes you from the decision to "become" a writer to three months after the publication of your first book. A combination of writing and life strategies (do not tell everyone around you how you yearn to be a writer; send a "charming note" to someone you admire in the industry five days a week, every week, for the rest of your life; find the perfect characters right in front of you), Making a Literary Life is for people not usually considered part of the literary loop: the non-East Coasters, the secret scribblers.
With sagacity, a magical sense of humor, and an abiding belief in the possibilities offered to "ordinary" people living "ordinary" lives, Carolyn See has summed up her life's work in a book so beguiling, irreverent, and giddily inspiring that you won't even realize it's changing your life until it already has.
"From the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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To her credit, See writes in a casual tone that is easy to read. Her prose "flows," but she gets too comfortable at times. She cusses like a sailor, and while she can be humorous, she often falls into a deep abyss of negativity about what it means to be a writer. Toward the end, I found myself wondering "Why bother be a writer at all?" If we wanted to know the catalogue of bad things that can happen to a writer, would we really pay See money to hear about them? Probably not.
Some of the chapters here are valuable, and See occasionally gives decent advice, but it could all be condensed into 50 pages. The final third of the book is most redundant. She devotes a chapter to "The First Trip to New York" and how a publisher would rather not throw you a party upon publication. Huh? Most people who read this book have not been published yet! Yet another chapter is devoted to how a published book has a mere 3 months to sit on bookstore shelves and how even the best writers on the planet can sell a mere 10 books a week. Instead of inspiring, Carolyn See does the opposite.
If that "fully herself" means writing personal notes - so be it. (I think this is something which sets a writer apart. I know as a publisher and editor who occasionally receives hand written notes.... They stand out from the onslaught of form letters, hastily scribed emails, etc.)
What is YOUR "fully yourself" action or practice which makes YOU are writer and forms YOUR literary life?
See glides through her examples with heartfulness, with truth, with integrity and with a wry sense of humor which helps you to say "Thank goodness she is human, and just like me... and survived being obsessed with the written word."
My favorite words in this entire book are these: "We live in a beautiful, sentient universe that yearns for you to tell the truth about it. If you love this world and this craft, they will lift you to a place you can't begin to imagine."
The writers who "get" those words will enjoy this work. Those writers who don't understand those words might be disappointed upon reading this book.
My heart-hope is you will both believe those words and live those words as you create your literary life.
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