THE ELEVENTH DRAFT by Frank Conroy

THE ELEVENTH DRAFT

Craft and the Writing Life from the Iowa Writers' Workshop
edited by

KIRKUS REVIEW

Twenty-five Iowa Writers” Workshop professors and graduates eloquently discuss why and how they write fiction. As editor Conroy—the workshop’s fifth director, a former director of the NEA literature program, and a celebrated author of books like Body and Soul (1993)—remarks in his introduction, writing comes fairly easily but gets harder. Many writers echo this perspiration after inspiration, including Ethan Canin, who learns to compose with “a narrowed concentration”; Francine Prose, who stresses details in making fiction real; and Chris Offutt, who notes the rewriting inherent in the title, “the eleventh draft.” Offutt only stumbled into writing when a librarian he’d asked for a baseball book produced The Catcher in the Rye. If one thinks writing is a hedonistic pursuit for gifted storytellers, Jayne Anne Phillips admits that “writers hate to write.” She compares the phases of writing to different kinds of marriages. Is creative writing self-therapy? Elizabeth McCracken observes that “writing fiction is like calling up a radio psychologist and saying, ‘Doctor, I have this friend, with this problem.’ “ Less facetious is T. Coraghessan Boyle, who considers writing a “preemptive strike against your own weakness.” Deborah Eisenberg writes “because I can’t do anything else.” Similar self-deprecating humor is employed by William Lashner, who reports he signed up for a creative-writing course from a TV ad and that he has “the dog’s and the writer’s pathetic need for approval.” Fred G. Lebron points out that readers and writers suspend disbelief in “acts of faith along the path to knowledge.” Also waxing theological, Susan Power understands the writer as a deity who gives life to her characters yet lets them exercise free will and make their own mistakes. Sadly, these gems about writing will perhaps be less appreciated by nonwriters.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-06-273639-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999




MORE BY FRANK CONROY

NonfictionDOGS BARK, BUT THE CARAVAN ROLLS ON by Frank Conroy
by Frank Conroy
FictionBODY AND SOUL by Frank Conroy
by Frank Conroy

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionDAILY RITUALS by Mason Currey
by Mason Currey
NonfictionMFA VS NYC by Chad Harbach
by Chad Harbach