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The Writing Life  By  cover art

The Writing Life

By: Annie Dillard
Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
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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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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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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

21 people found this helpful

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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)

16 people found this helpful

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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!

13 people found this helpful

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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.

12 people found this helpful

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"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.)

11 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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

3 people found this helpful

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Not Much Here

She’s very good at using many words to say very little. I have no doubt that this these passages are very true to her experience as a writer, but they almost exclusively trade in romantic metaphors, which I find almost completely useless at getting into the head of a writer who is serious about the craft. The other parts of the book just tell us what her life is like, but there’s not much insight there.

1 person found this helpful

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Climb into the brain and emotional life of a writer

After listening to this short book I got the feeling that I was given the privilege of experiencing what it is like to be a writer for many years. As the book progressed it became more difficult to understand and more difficult to describe. It's as if the progression through the book has left you more complicated. You have more questions but you're also wiser than you were before reading it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andr� Santos
  • 11-29-22

too much self helpie

a bit boring. too much focus on lame examples with a awful tendency to self help.

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  • Anita L.
  • 04-07-22

awful

egotistical bore! stay away, I can't imagine anyone finishing this book, as I fell asleep everytime, Zzz

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  • Tara
  • 02-23-22

extraordinary

This is a book to savour and go immediately to the beginning and listen again

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  • Rob B
  • 02-02-22

A bit waffly

To be honest, it was a pleasant listen but I didn’t really see the point.

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  • Jenny
  • 10-01-21

Enjoyable

Not a how to book but a life and experience lived as a writer, through the eyes of a writer. Pleasantly surprised and beautifully read.

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  • Vanessa Cobb
  • 08-19-21

Words beyond words

I expected to learn something refreshing and worthwhile from this book - I didn’t expect to be drawn into the world of a gentle genius. This quiet, riveting book felt like receiving a sideways glance from an angelic being, like the invitation of a zen master to kneel down with her for a cup of tea. The power of it steals upon you. You find yourself mirrored in its passages, humbled, longing to merit its wisdom. You reach the end knowing that you have held the fleeting beauty of a dragonfly in the palm of your hand and, as it leaves you, that never again will you chance upon it for the first time.