The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Sep 14, 2004 - Reference - 176 pages
3 Reviews

A tribute to the brilliant craftsmanship of one of our most distinguished writers, providing valuable insight into her inspiration and her method

Joyce Carol Oates is widely regarded as one of America's greatest contemporary literary figures. Having written in a number of genres -- prose, poetry, personal and critical essays, as well as plays -- she is an artist ideally suited to answer essential questions about what makes a story striking, a novel come alive, a writer an artist as well as a craftsman.

In The Faith of a Writer, Oates discusses the subjects most important to the narrative craft, touching on topics such as inspiration, memory, self-criticism, and "the unique power of the unconscious." On a more personal note, she speaks of childhood inspirations, offers advice to young writers, and discusses the wildly varying states of mind of a writer at work. Oates also pays homage to those she calls her "significant predecessors" and discusses the importance of reading in the life of a writer.

Oates claims, "Inspiration and energy and even genius are rarely enough to make 'art': for prose fiction is also a craft, and craft must be learned, whether by accident or design." In fourteen succinct chapters, The Faith of a Writer provides valuable lessons on how language, ideas, and experience are assembled to create art.

 

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User Review  - kerrycarter76 - LibraryThing

Educational, but still a wonderful read. I thought this memoir of Joyce Carol Oates life and career was just a wonderful piece of literature. The twelve essays were given in such a way that I could ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mrstreme - LibraryThing

Joyce Carol Oates explored the craft of writing in her collection of essays, The Faith of a Writer. I was expecting an autobiographical passage through JCO’s evolution as a writer, but that was not ... Read full review

Contents

from jabberwocky
13
running and writing
29
notes on failure
51
inspiration
75
the enigmatic art of selfcriticism
127
the writers studio
137
jco and i After Borges
153
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Page 86 - I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together, I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.
Page 50 - Dipt me in ink, my parents', or my own? As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came...
Page 17 - Fury said to a mouse, That he met in the house, 'Let us both go to law: / will prosecute™ you. — Come, I'll take no denial; We must have a trial: For really this morning I've nothing to do.
Page 92 - Again I say, don't look for the development of the novel to follow the lines of certain characters: the characters fall into the form of some other rhythmic form, as when one draws a fiddle-bow across a fine tray delicately sanded, the sand takes lines unknown.
Page 55 - The first Day's Night had come— And grateful that a thing So terrible— had been endured— I told my Soul to sing— She said her Strings were snapt— Her Bow— to Atoms blown— And so to mend her— gave me work Until another Morn— And then— a Day as huge 10 As Yesterdays in pairs. Unrolled its horror in my face— Until it blocked my eyes...
Page 78 - I write it out in a verse MacDonagh and MacBride And Connolly and Pearse Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
Page 136 - A young man is afraid of his demon and puts his hand over the demon's mouth sometimes and speaks for him. And the things the young man says are very rarely poetry. So I have tried to let the demon say his say, and to remove the passages where the young man intruded.
Page 63 - Nothing seems to us changed. Out of the unreal shadows of the night comes back the real life that we had known. We have to resume it where we had left off, and there steals over us a terrible sense of the necessity for the continuance of energy in the same wearisome round of stereotyped habits...
Page 89 - Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it...
Page 61 - It was his birthday and they had just been given to him, so he lost no time in setting them up on the table. All the soldiers were exactly alike with one exception, and he differed from the rest in having only one leg. For he was made last, and there was not quite enough tin left to finish him. However, he stood just as well on his one leg as the others on two. In fact he is the very one who is to become famous.

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About the author (2004)

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and the National Humanities Medal, our government's highest civilian honor for the arts. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she received the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature, and in 2006 she received the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the 2010 recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Joyce Carol Oates lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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