Cover image for The spirit of writing : classic and contemporary essays celebrating the writing life
The spirit of writing : classic and contemporary essays celebrating the writing life
Waldman, Mark Robert.
Publication Information:
New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxii, 309 pages ; 24 cm.
Subject Term:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN137 .W27 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN137 .W27 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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.

Author Notes

Mark Robert Waldman is a therapist and an expert on the creative process. his essays, poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction have been published in numerous anthologies and journals

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Aug. 27) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 about how writing helped her out of depression, Anne Lamott explains how she moves beyond her terrible first drafts, and Gail Godwin learns to overcome her inner critic, the Watcher, who appears every time she sits down to compose. While books about writers and the creative process abound, this collection stands out because of the large and varied number of artists represented and the secrets they reveal about how and why they write. The book will be invaluable for those who aspire to write as well as for all who love language and reading. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Mark Robert WaldmanSindiwe MagonaBob ShacochisAnnie DillardGail GodwinCathy A. ColmanSylvia PlathCatherine BowmanJoseph ConradMichael DareTom BradleyMark TwainJane Eaton HamiltonO. HenryKelly CherryConnie ZweigLaura CerwinskeCeleste FremonGail FordJeffrey A. CarverJoe BalayErica JongMike MinehanJanet FitchTristine RainerLia Scott PriceJohn FoxWillis BarnstoneTony BarnstoneSusan McBrideRoberta Jean BryantAnna Lee WaldoZilpha SnyderJenny DavidowCollette CaronRainer Maria RilkeMark TwainRachel Naomi RemenStephen KingJulia CameronWilliam ZinsserHarriet LernerJanice MacDonaldBrenda UelandNatalie GoldbergAnne LamottJulius GoldsteinJoel SaltzmanEric MaiselRobert PinskyHenry MillerAnais NinSusan SuntreeClive MatsonMark AmerikaCharles DeemerOctavio PazWard M. KalmanHolcomb ReedJudith SimundsonPierre JorisSteven Connor
Introductionp. xix
Part 1 Living the Writing Life
Introductionp. 3
1 Clawing at Stonesp. 7
2 Writing for Revengep. 14
3 Ruining the Pagep. 17
4 Watcher at the Gatep. 20
5 Mistressp. 24
6 And a Cold Voice Says, "What Have You Done?"p. 26
7 Sylvia's Honeyp. 29
8 Alas, Madness!p. 36
9 How to Write Like Tom Robbinsp. 38
10 Streckfussp. 45
11 "Littery" Menp. 55
12 Congratulations! It's a Six Pound Eight Ounce Novelp. 60
13 Confessions of a Humoristp. 66
14 I Am a Writerp. 76
15 Writing as Practicep. 80
16 Writing as a Healing Art--Two Storiesp. 83
17 Of Goods and Goodwillp. 88
18 At Its Bestp. 93
19 Of Starships and Dragons' Clawsp. 96
20 True Sentencesp. 101
Part 2 Memories and Inspirations from the Past
Introductionp. 107
21 My Grandmother on My Shoulderp. 111
22 Extracts from a Journalp. 114
23 The Capes of Anays Ninp. 119
24 My Life as a Flyp. 126
25 Without Wingsp. 136
26 The Leaf Shape Remainsp. 146
27 Discovering the Habit of Poetryp. 152
28 Kill the Buddha-What I Learned from Chinese Poetryp. 158
29 Getting Itp. 167
30 Horsefeathers!p. 170
31 Chemistry, History, and a Passion to Writep. 173
32 Writing for Childrenp. 180
33 To Fly Without Wingsp. 184
34 A Storyteller's Soulp. 187
Part 3 Advice to Writers Young and Old
Introductionp. 195
35 Letter to a Young Poetp. 199
36 A Sure-Fire Cure for Writer's Blockp. 203
37 Poetic Medicinep. 205
38 It's Not the Moneyp. 208
39 The Great Writerp. 213
40 The "Right" Way to Writep. 217
41 The Courage to Writep. 220
42 When? Why? What? Where? Answers to Questions Inevitably Askedp. 225
43 Be Careless, Be Reckless, Be a Lion or a Pirate When You Writep. 229
44 Man Eats Carp. 232
45 Shitty First Draftsp. 234
46 A Writer's Best Friendp. 238
47 The Fortune Cookie That Saved My Lifep. 241
48 Coming In Secondp. 245
49 If You Could Write One Great Poem, What Would You Want It To Be About?p. 248
Part 4 Bending the Muse and Breaking the Rules
Introductionp. 253
50 That Voice!p. 258
51 The Story of My Printing Pressp. 260
52 Write!p. 263
53 Membrane Porousp. 266
54 This Could Be the First Day of the Rest of My Lifep. 271
55 How Do I Number the Pages?p. 276
56 Proemp. 280
57 [W][O][R][D] [P][L][A][Y]p. 282
58 L'Langualuxep. 283
59 Dreaming a Storyp. 291
60 The Case of the Missing "M"p. 295
61 Not a Case of Writingp. 298
Last Words: Faulkner and Steinbeck on Writingp. 301
Permissionsp. 303
About the Editorp. 309