Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2007 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 288 pages
7 Reviews
As Carolyn See says, writing guides are like preachers on Sunday—there may be a lot of them, but you can’t have too many, and there’s always an audience of the faithful. And while Making a Literary Life is ostensibly a book that teaches you how to write, it really teaches you how to make your interior life into your exterior life, how to find and join that community of like-minded souls you’re sure is out there somewhere.

Carolyn See distills a lifetime of experience as novelist, memoirist, critic, and creative-writing professor into this marvelously engaging how-to book. Partly the nuts and bolts of writing (plot, point of view, character, voice) and partly an inspirational guide to living the life you dream of, Making a Literary Life takes you from the decision to “become” a writer to three months after the publication of your first book. A combination of writing and life strategies (do not tell everyone around you how you yearn to be a writer; send a “charming note” to someone you admire in the industry five days a week, every week, for the rest of your life; find the perfect characters right in front of you), Making a Literary Life is for people not usually considered part of the literary loop: the non–East Coasters, the secret scribblers.

With sagacity, a magical sense of humor, and an abiding belief in the possibilities offered to “ordinary” people living “ordinary” lives, Carolyn See has summed up her life’s work in a book so beguiling, irreverent, and giddily inspiring that you won’t even realize it’s changing your life until it already has.

From the Hardcover edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LarrySouders - LibraryThing

A book that will embroil you in the life of one who writes. If you yourself have thought of writing this would be a good one to add to you collection. Read full review

MAKING A LITERARY LIFE: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A beginner's guide to the craft of writing and the business of publishing, from veteran novelist See (The Handyman, 1999, etc.)."This book is for the timid, forlorn, and clueless," declares the author ... Read full review

Selected pages


Title Page
Keep It to Yourself
A Thousand Words a
Charming Notes
Pretend to Be a Writer
Hang Out with People Who Support Your Work
Do Some Magic
Make Rejection a Process
Point of View
Geography Time and Space
Building a Scene
That First Trip to New York
Magazines Grants and Fun with the Tax

Getting Published Part I

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About the author (2007)

Carolyn See is the author of nine books. She is the Friday-morning book reviewer for The Washington Post and a member of the National Book Critics Circle, PEN/West International, and the advisory board of the Modern Library. She has won both a Guggenheim and a Getty fellowship, and currently teaches English at UCLA. She lives in Pacific Palisades, California.

From the Hardcover edition.

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