I first came across Annie Dillard when I discovered a quote which I liked very much. I wrote about it here. Then at Christmas I was given, The Writing Life as a present.
The book is a series of vignettes describing an author’s writing life. By giving biographical glimpses, as well as including the experiences of other authors and friends, readers can find validation to pursue their own writing journey. Dillard outlines how she writes and edits but you don’t feel compelled to duplicate her pattern. Although I imagine she finds it organized, I found it unwieldly and inefficient. She doesn’t even suggest you do follow her method but rather you feel encouraged to find what works best for you. There’s a sense there is no right formula for writing as different things work for different people at different times.
On page 53 Dillard claims to hate writing which seems rather odd since she spends so much time doing it. I suspect she means she hates how difficult it is to write in a clear but engaging way.
The book is written in a conversational style which at times seems to ramble along interesting diversions which are somehow connected with Dillard’s love of the written word. She also loves and is inspired by the environment so animals and nature often find their way into her writing.
While the book didn’t contain any practical advice that I could use, it was nevertheless an interesting insight into an author’s world.