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The Spirit of Writing: Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life
by Mark Robert Waldman

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 309 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.89 x 9.34 x 6.40
  • Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher; (August 23, 2001)
  • ISBN: 1585421278
  • Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars Based on 7 reviews. Write a review.
  • Sales Rank: 390,356
    (Publishers and authors: improve your sales)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Therapist, writer and creativity expert Mark Waldman (Love Games) offers The Spirit of Writing: Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life, including five dozen pieces by luminaries like Joseph Conrad, Erica Jong, Sylvia Plath, Henry Miller and Octavio Paz. In "Man Eats Car," Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) declares, "Writing is everything, unconditional.... If you think big enough to let people eat cars, you will be able to see that ants are elephants and men are women." Pierre Joris (Poasis) poeticizes the "interface between language and the world": "it becomes clear that this letter fell off on its own accord somehow & that it is in the gap between mother-tongue/other-tongue that I am written. This gap, this emptiness, is liable to take my breath away." This anthology will provide writers of all stripes with guidance and inspiration for their psyche and their craft.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
This collection of essays explores the inner lives of writers, giving a glimpse into the creative mind. A therapist specializing in the creative process, Waldman has chosen essays from such well-known authors as Mark Twain, Sylvia Plath, Annie Dillard, Erica Jong, and Joseph Conrad, along with others published here for the first time. These essayists discuss their challenges and triumphs, recall cherished memories, and offer advice to beginners. Author and artist Laura Cerwinske talks ...
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Book Description
A candid and inspiring anthology exploring the joys and frustrations of being a writer.

In this compilation of essays by renowned writers from Joseph Conrad to Gail Godwin, therapist and expert on creativity Mark Waldman offers a rare glimpse into the inner world of the writer. Here is a wealth of valuable insight on matters both practical and emotional: from Janet Fitch on how she kept her creativity alive before her novel won Oprah's seal of approval, to Anne Lamott on the difficulty of first drafts, to Octavio Paz on the mystery and language of words. These elegant meditations on what it means to be a person who writes offer comfort and inspiration for the countless writers who struggle each day to put words down on paper.

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All Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars For Anyone Who Loves The Written Word, September 30, 2001
Reviewer: Susan McBride, author of OVERKILL and AND THEN SHE WAS GONE from St. Louis, MO United States
Mark Robert Waldman has put together a real gem in THE SPIRIT OF WRITING, and it's my absolute pleasure to have been a small part of it. It's amazing to read classic essays on the subject of writing by such luminaries as Twain, Faulkner and Steinbeck and contemporary pieces by such diverse scribes at Stephen King and Erica Jong. I particularly loved reading Janet Fitch's "The Capes of Anais Nin," which takes us into her mind well before her WHITE OLEANDER was an Oprah Book Club selection. To read that she thought at one point that "there was a very distinct possibility I would never sell anything as long as I lived" and to realize the success that came her way is refreshing and reminds us all that being a writer is not for sissies! More folks will tell you to quit than will encourage the pursuit. But, if you love words as I do, you'll understand what Fitch was saying...and you'll keep THE SPIRIT OF WRITING nearby to forever inspire you!!

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars A POWERFUL BOOK !, September 29, 2001
Reviewer: susan van doren from Malibu
"Writers love language. They play with words, rolling them around on the page, arranging and rearranging them until they come alive. The meanings are stretched and changed, and if the writer is successful, he or she will lure the reader into that mysterious world where fiction and reality blur."
These words were penned by Mark Waldman, who edited this amazing collection of literary gems. Written by award-winning writers and poets, and several as-yet-unknown new talents, these authors open their hearts to the reader, sharing the most intimate adventures of their lives, moments that are frequently filled with vulnerability, pain, and ecstasy. The Spirit of Writing exemplifies the writer's life in a way that inspires us to write and read, and then to write some more. In many of the stories, you will witness how a writer's life unfolds. You'll roam through childhood memories, nostalgic and sometimes trajic, discovering what inspired them to write. These authors write lyrically, playing with subtle nuances of tone. And for those who want to write better, there are mountains of literary advice.
Humor also abounds in this delightful collection of essays. From Mark Twain's hilariously brutal attack upon poets to the wild and sexy muse of Henry Miller, I laughed my way through the pitfalls and pratfalls that plague a writer's life (in Hamilton's essay, she literally gives birth to a six pound book). Even the classic essays by mixed pathos with humor, as in Joseph Conrad's monologue with his pen that drives him mad. And imagine what the poet Peter Joris must suffer through when the letters and words keep falling off his page (Joris' story is one of a half-dozen experimental pieces that demonstrate the cutting edge of creative writing today).
One story, "Clawing at Stones," touched me deeply. It was written by Sindiwe Magona, a well-known black author who calls herself "a migrant worker," a South African woman who lives in the Bronx and works for the United Nations. "I am convinced," she writes, "that it is only by probing both the joys and woundings of time that we might be blessed and empowered to affect the future." She talks about the dangers that women of color face, especially if they write about the atrocities they see. Through such memoirs, we begin to understand the darker forces that guides a writer's pen. Several other stories in this anthology, like Lia Scott Price's "Without Wings," also illuminate the suffering that have driven many women to write.
Perhaps we are all "clawing at stones" and "fighting without wings," living with our stories inside. And with the memoirs that this unique anthology holds, perhaps it will inspire more people to write. About the truth, the pain, and joy that fills our lives.

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5 out of 5 stars A Gift for Storytelling, September 27, 2001
Reviewer: A. Croix from Cleveland, OH
I just finished reading Without Wings by Lia Scott Price and decided I had to write to say how much I enjoyed the story. While reading it, I felt the pain, the anguish, the pure and raw emotions from her characters. I am so greatly impressed. To finally stumble upon a writer with a gift for storytelling, I would just like to say congratulations on this, what I consider to be a masterpiece of a story. I hope to read more of her works! --A new found fan.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars Redeeming, September 27, 2001
Reviewer: A. Croix from Cleveland, OH
Lia Scott Price's story "Without Wings" is very redeeming. I also have my own monsters in a very different form. Her story is touching because it made me ponder about my own life. Thank you, Lia, for sharing.

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