After reading a recommendation for the book “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard, I was delighted to find it at the library in town. But that delight soon turned to disappointment.
I didn’t like the book. The first chapter was fine, and the fifth chapter was good, but most of it annoyed me. If the book hadn’t been so small (just over a hundred pages), I probably wouldn’t have finished it. Annie Dillard’s worldview is largely reflected in the book, and that worldview–namely transcendentalism–I found highly depressing. A sense of hopelessness ran through it, as if she is constantly searching for reality. Every once in a while there would be a burst of hope in a paragraph, but then it would vanish.
That being said, Annie Dillard is a talented writer, and her prose is literary and poetic. Despite the fact that I don’t endorse the book, I did learn some helpful tips from it.
Don’t be afraid to reject unnecessary writing–Your writing is not for yourself. It’s for others to read. If something is not enhancing the story for your reader, scrap it.
Craft each sentence–A sentence is not just a string of words. It is music. Each word is a note that creates a melody. When we look at a sentence that way, we suddenly respect it more, and realize how much of an art form it is.
Write as if to terminal patients (because everyone is)–Sooner or later, everyone on this planet is going to die. That is reality. As writers we need to write something that is worth people’s time–something that makes a positive influence on the world.
What you read is what you write–In other words, read good books.
I suppose this is an odd review, giving a book a two-star rating and then sharing the things I like about it. But just like most things in life, there’s always a silver lining.