We – okay, make that I, your friendly neilghborhood munchman – write because it’s my way of righting all the injustices of the world. Me doing my bit for truth and freedom and justice. The same reason the U.S. fought WWII.
Delusions of glory? You betcha. I got ’em in spades.
In her new book, Why We Write, subtitled 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do, Meredith Maran asks the most successful writers she can get to talk to her about their careers and, not surprisingly, not one of them seems to have asked her, “Why did you name your book after a U.S. Army propaganda film?” (Um, that would be WHY WE FIGHT in case you’re not as film-obsessed as moi.
Ms. Maran’s august assemblage does, however, come up with some interesting stuff. Jodi Picoult talks about the anguish she feels while writing. Susan Orlean exprresses her self doubt. David Baldacci tells us that writing is quite simply his addiction. (“If writing were illegal, I’d be in prison.”) We also hear about such fun writerly ailments as writer’s block:
“It’s like swallowing sand,” says Isabel Allende.
See? An insight. Right there. Cool, huh?
Confession: My problem with this book is that I’m a Philistine. I must be. I’ve only heard of 2 of the writers in it, James Frey and Walter Mosley, and one of them is a discredited liar while the other is, eww…a genre kinda guy.
OTOH, I absolutely loved reading Ms. Maran’s review of her own book on Amazon.Com. And I love her as well, just for having whatever it is it took to write it:
The inside story of this book. February 2, 2013Format:Kindle Edition
Hi. I’m Meredith Maran, editor of WHY WE WRITE. If you’re interested in why and how this book came together, read on.In 2010, there was a debate in the book world about whether “chick lit” was “real literature” and whether the same book, written by a man, would be considered “literary” and not “dick lit.” At the time I was about to publish my first novel, and I couldn’t figure out what to hope for: that it would be labeled “chick lit” and not taken seriously, but reach large numbers of readers? Or that it would be labeled “literary fiction” and be reviewed widely, but not read by many people?I thought the whole conundrum was ridiculous, and not at all helpful to the biggest struggle facing writers and readers, which is–not to put too fine a point on it–keeping books and writers alive. I had a feeling that the motivations of writers across genres had more in common than the style of work they produced, and that putting them between the covers of a single book might start a conversation among them, and among their readers. So I decided to ask a bunch of them the same ten questions about their relationship to their writing. Sure enough! I got fascinating answers from each of the 20 writers I interviewed, but when it came to their essential motivation for writing, they were more similar than different. Point proven–and secrets revealed.
Oh–also, I needed the money to fund the writing of my second novel. And 826 National needed the money I’ll donate to them from sales of the book.
I’d love to hear anything you’d like to share about how you find the book useful. And thanks for reading!
Yours, Meredith Maran