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Publisher's Summary

With color, irony, and sensitivity, Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard illuminates the dedication, absurdity, and daring that is the writer’s life. As it probes and exposes, examines and analyzes, The Writing Life offers deeper insight into one of the most mysterious of professions.

©1989 Annie Dillard (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Annie Dillard is a wonderful writer, and The Writing Life is full of joys.” ( New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about The Writing Life

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  • David
  • 19-07-18

Vastly Disappointing

I have only Audible to thank for their generous policy of allowing for returns on this book. It was everything but- what I had hoped to hear as an aspiring author. Annie Dillard has a marvelous way with words but in describing her own life as a writer, gives only the depressing, discouraging, almost demented portrayal of your worst day ever -over and over again. If you’re looking for inspiration, I advise you look elsewhere!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Lana Abu Ayyash
  • 12-01-12

Loved Annie Dillard

I always love memoirs ... and this book is kind of a memoir ... it's well written and exciting .. if you are like me fascinated with the life of writers and artists this book will give you a glimpse of what's it like to be a writer (an excellent book would be my reading life for par conroy ... i loved that one)

12 people found this helpful

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  • Gillian
  • 27-02-15

How Odd--How Poorly Written?!?

If you can weed through the flowery language, the endless adjectives and adjectives, you might find something here. I, however, feel that this was a waste of time. This had more the feel of a "reality check," which, okay, writers sure as hell need from time to time, but there was little wisdom offered in its place.
This is a very short work, not a lot of money, but still. The only thing worse than a waste of money is a waste of time. Save both of yours; go for a longer, more in-depth work for real education, real inspiration, real guidance.
Avoid the adjective/adverb exhaustion

16 people found this helpful

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  • kylan
  • 25-04-16

"Colorless to the Point of Sensory Deprivation"

A few (and I mean a few) worthwhile insights on the craft, but dry, dry, dry. Self absorbed and precious too, even conceded. She leaves out much of what the reader entering this book will want from it and includes most of what they will not.

Then you have deal-breakers such as the following: "It should surprise no one that the life of the writer--such as it is--is colorless to the point of sensory deprivation. Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world. This explains why so many books describe the author's childhood. A writer's childhood may well have been the occasion of his only firsthand experience."

...Really?

Ask yourself: how many writers, like Dillard, are privileged enough to be able to winter in seaside cabins in order to devote all their time to writing? How many writers, working in ANY genre, do not honour the real world as an irreplaceable and primary source, regardless how much or not they intend to reflect it? This is just one example of Dillard at her least self-scrutinizing and, for that fact, least wise. (Wisdom ostensibly being the book's offering.)

For a work whose focus boomerangs so frequently back to a writer's insecurities and uncertainties, "The Writing Life" is remarkably sure of itself, seemingly unaware that it's a shining example of why writers need such character flaws in the first place.

(Oh, and the narrator, by the way, does Dillard justice to a fault. Robotically monotonous and irritating from start to finish.)

7 people found this helpful

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  • Terry Armstrong
  • 17-03-12

A good place to start

If you've considered listening to Annie Dillard, I consider this a classic. I've owned this book in print form for a dozen or so years and have thought a lot about the content and how the content comes to all of us (the life of a writer). Be ready for great insights coming from small observances as well as fantastic stories that are commentaries on all of our lives. This is a writing to be pondered so let it sink in a little at a time.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Pam
  • 14-04-13

Reads like a poem

This is written in the spirit of a long-form poem, as an ode to (and lamentation of) the creative life. There's some good information here—not presented as a to-do list, but rather as a story, where we learn from the example of the author and her life as a writer. The narrator is absolutely excellent, with her voice inflections worthy of a poetry performance.

6 people found this helpful

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  • M. Gerard
  • 15-06-20

Not for me

Since I've enjoyed books on writing by Anne Lamott and Stephen King, I thought I would like this short audiobook by Annie Dillard. I lasted only through the first hour, and then had to stop. It was tedious, uninteresting information presented with an unpleasant air of complete self-satisfaction.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 12-04-20

inspiring

this reader did a terrible job. this is a book about writing not a horror story. however the metaphors used and the beauty of the language is spectacular I recommend reading it you're on your own and not listening to the audible version

2 people found this helpful

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  • P McLaughlin
  • 27-03-21

A Genius for Descriptive Detail

Dillard, a master writer with a genius for descriptive detail, portrays the verve necessary to endure the extremes of a writing life, much like the flight with stunt pilot Dave Rahm, the Flying Professor, who teaches her that the risks and rigors are “worth the final smash-up,” the nose dive that takes the writer “inside the paper” on which she writes with such mastery.

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  • Tom
  • 14-02-21

Random Thoughts on the Writer’s Craft

Dillard is a Pulitzer Prize winning Poet, Essayist and Novelist whose work I read many years ago. She married a friend of mine and I’ve followed her work over the years. Since I’ve been doing a little writing recently I thought I would read her thoughts on the craft.

That’s exactly what the bulk of this brief work is: a Stream of Consciousness of her thoughts as she has struggled with the challenges the writer faces when they sit down with the blank page. It’s not a step by step how-to manual but rather a scattering of notions that go through one’s mind during the process.

That said, just hearing the thoughts of an accomplished author and sympathizing with her experiences has value to anyone who enjoys writing or even reading. Four stars.

I might add that her final story about the work of a professional acrobatic performance pilot and his bi-plane on how he sees his art is worth the price of admission.