Sunday, August 1, 2010

Book Review: The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice From an Unrepentant Novelist by John McNally

✰✰✰✰ If you are searching for a book with a subjective look at what one needs to survive the writing life, this is the book for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a how-to book on writing plot, characterization, or grammar, this is not for you. Author John McNally brings his personal experiences as a writer in his self-described "quasi-self-help" book for those of us who are interested in the writing life. McNally's advice is loaded with anecdotes. He is brutally honest and blunt as he shares his experiences of navigating the publishing industry and the stories of success and failure that come with that pursuit. Written with wit, humor, and sarcasm, this book is both educational and great fun.

This practical book is divided into six parts: The Decision to Become a Writer; Education and the Writer; Getting Published; Publicity; Employment for Writers; and The Writer's Life. While McNally covers the different paths one can take to become a writer, a considerable amount of time is dedicated to the different types of programs available and the MFA controversy. For those interested in further reading, McNally also includes a list of titles in the Recommended Reading section. Note: The Index was not seen in the uncorrected proof.

The Bottom Line:
Whether you're considering becoming a writer or you've already written a novel and are looking for an agent, John McNally provides a wealth of information in his new book. The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice From an Unrepentant Novelist is an eye-opening look into the world of a writer and what it takes to become one. It's like a Writers' Workshop in a book. It's a quick read from start to finish, but the great thing is that the reader can choose to read only the parts that apply to her situation. I plan to keep this book in my personal library so I can refer to it as needed. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever considered pursuing a life of writing. Also, highly recommended for public libraries. Look for it this September!

Details: The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice From an Unrepentant Novelist by John McNally. Advance Reading Copy published by University of Iowa Press in 2010. 261 pages. ISBN: 978-1-58729-920-9 Note: I received a complimentary Uncorrected Proof from The University of Iowa Press in exchange for a review. This was made possible by the Early Reviewer program at LibraryThing.

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