December 20, 2012

30 Books in 30 Days: "Because You Have To: A Writer's Life," by Joan Frank

(CCLaP publishes mini-reviews of both books and movies on a regular basis, none lasting more than a few hundred words. A full list of CCLaP's book-based mini-reviews can be found on its main book page, and movies on the main movie page.)

Because You Have To: A Writing Life, by Joan Frank

Because You Have To: A Writing Life
By Joan Frank
University of Notre Dame Press

Back when I was a writer myself in the 1990s, I tended to have a low tolerance for those who assigned too much preciousness to the actual act of writing -- I and my friends instead tended to look at it as just a job like any other, with a certain amount of time you need to dedicate to it each day, and a certain amount of pages to get finished, no matter what your mood or what the circumstances or whether you were doing that on a yellow legal pad on the bus on the way to your soul-killing day job, etc etc. So you can just imagine the reaction I had to Joan Frank's new Because You Have To: A Writing Life, not a guide to the practicalities of writing but rather the fussiest, most artsy topics possible, which forgive the generality but always seem to be written by middle-aged, middle-class women for the benefit of other middle-aged, middle-class women, the kind who will spend hundreds of dollars a year on such creative aids but never seem to actually get anything written; so in this case, for example, an entire essay on when the best time of day is to write, an entire essay on whether to tell your middle-aged friends that you're working on a book, an entire essay on how best to decorate your "writer's studio" and whether to let your kids in when you're officially "on the clock," and on and on like this for 200 pages. I mean, obviously there's an audience for this kind of book, because publishing companies keep pumping them out by the dozen every year, including in this case a respected academic press like Notre Dame; but unfortunately I am not one of those audience members, nor do I suspect are many of CCLaP's readers, which is why I can comfortably recommend that all of you skip this title altogether, and pick up a more practical guide if you're looking for advice on actually writing a better manuscript.

Out of 10: 6.9

Filed by Jason Pettus at 8:01 AM, December 20, 2012. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Nonfiction | Reviews |