Initial reaction: Excellent compilation of twenty writers who recount their experiences in writing – from its highs and lows to personal and professional encounters. I also loved the endnotes here where each writer gives tips to the aspiring writer what to keep in mind as they’re building upon their craft. It was incredibly inspiring on a number of levels, and for the most part, I appreciated much of what the contributors had to say. There were some points where I didn’t see eye to eye on approaches to the craft, but I still think it was worth looking at where each individual person came from and what their writing shaped to over time and circumstance.
I enjoyed hearing from this collection of 20 authors and their insight and advice on the trade. It’s a compilation that not only showcases their respective biographical information, accomplishments, publications, and accolades, but also gets into the heart of the reasons why they write, what their process entails, and advice they have for up and coming writers in the industry. I really appreciated many of the perspectives that I read in here, from Isabel Allende to Walter Mosley. Some I didn’t really see eye-to-eye with on perspective (i.e. James Frey, but I think given how he approaches the writing industry, that was a given.), but I still respected – on an overarching note – being able to use this as a source of writing inspiration.
Meredith Maran did a fantastic job of compiling these 20 accounts and organizing them in an easy to follow format to refer back to. I know one of the reasons I continue coming back to this as a resource is not just for the advice within, but also to look into the works of the authors that I hadn’t been exposed to before this book. So it’s an informative resource on both the writing profession and something of a writing history for the author’s noted here. Not comprehensive, but definitely a strong foot in the door.
Overall score: 4/5 stars.
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Plume.