THE WRITING TRADE: A Year in the Life by John Jerome

THE WRITING TRADE: A Year in the Life

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Veteran writer Jerome (Stone Work, 1989; Staying with It, 1984, etc.), a former magazine columnist and editor, evokes in diary form a year in his writing life, measuring out the days in seasoned spoonfuls of insight and effort. ""At age fifty-seven I find myself still learning to work,"" writes Jerome. Despite eight books and hundreds of articles, he calls himself ""a competent but essentially invisible writer,"" a craftsman daily struggling to build spare, honest sentences. According to this ex-sportsman, writing such sentences is the best and most demanding sport there is--""a moral act"" that ""establishes a truth that somehow authenticates you""--but a writer must learn to fight through thickets of confusion and distraction to reach those beautiful glades of clarity and insight. Not the least of the thorny problems is money (or, rather, the lack of it), and here Jerome criticizes a publishing business that lavishes the bulk of its energy and cash on a relative few huge commercial properties while books by lesser-known writers like the author himself appear and disappear with barely a nod from the public or media. In these entries, Jerome anxiously awaits the reviews of Stone Work, only to watch it slip from the bookshelves by the end of the year. He consoles himself, and the reader, by noting the abundant small pleasures of his life (he walks his dogs every day at noon, drinking in the seasonal changes in his western Massachusetts landscape). And he also offers tips for other writers, including a useful schema for writing a nonfiction book that involves breaking a subject into manageable categories. A charming and worthy tour of one writer's life, practiced as he preaches.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Viking