Why Write?: A Master Class on the Art of Writing and Why It Matters

In Why Write?: A Master Class on the Art of Writing and Why It Matters, University of Virginia professor Mark Edmundson, author of Why Read? and Why Teach?, first offers readers a multitude of reasons why not to write. The list goes on and on: the lack of any substantial amount of money for most authors; the loneliness inherent in the writing process; the little pleasure revenge writing actually incurs; the probability of receiving a bad review that limits the scope and connotations of one's book. So why do so many people write? Edmundson states, "Because writing is one of the best acts a human being can turn his hand to.... By coming up with fresh and arresting words to describe the world accurately, the writer expands the boundaries of her world, and possibly her readers' world, too."

Edmundson defines writing as that which provides instruction and entertainment, and he offers exemplars of good writers--such as Keats, Yeats, Melville, Whitman, and Woolf--to back his philosophical, sometimes humorous, occasionally snarky, commentary on the writing life. Sex, alcohol, fame and fortune; the ability to think and learn about oneself; and the need for expression play roles and are expanded on in Edmundson's methodical, edifying and pleasurable consideration of the ups and downs of the writing life. Rather than a how-to-write book, Why Write? ponders why so many people try their hand at something that can be so time consuming and contain so many pitfalls, and Edmundson offers satisfying answers for readers and writers alike. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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