categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence
Are you teaching writing? Is it about time to order books for fall semester? May I suggest Writing Life Stories? No reason to be humble–it’s the original and greatest book on making creative nonfiction–and the best by far, often imitated. And while it’s aimed at the creative writing crowd, it’s also very useful in the composition classroom, a complete course, and perhaps particularly suited to the community college setting, or anywhere non-traditional students appear, from high school to grad school and beyond. You get from it what you bring to it, in other words, and it self-adapts to whatever level the reader/writer/teacher approaches from. It moves seamlessly from Getting Started to writing memoir, then uses the memoir exercises as evidence for the writing of personal essays, then uses both to aim at public writing, including journalism and the formal essay. It’s got advice on publishing, too. It’s fun for students, which makes it fun for teachers, and it’s filled with exercises to do both in-class and on the fly, or to assign. Or for teachers who’d like to get some of their own writing done, goddamn it! The tenth anniversary edition, with Kristen Keckler, is thoroughly up to date, and replaces the old edition. Several sample essays form a mini-anthology, and the huge reading list in an appendix collecting great books in all creative nonfiction genres is famous, often borrowed! Among the many charms of Writing Life Stories is its price: $16.95, which means students actually afford to buy it, and most opt keep it. Plus, you know me! I’ll do an email chat with your class. I’ll walk to your university no matter where in the world, and I’ll talk to your class while you put your feet up and plot your novel!
–Philip Lopate, THE ART OF THE PERSONAL ESSAY
“WRITING LIFE STORIES is an inspiring way to begin writing a memoir. Roorbach is a fine author whose enthusiasm is infectious.”
–Lee Gutkin, Editor of Creative Nonfiction Magazine
“I would never have written word one without Bill Roorbach. It’s as simple as that.”
–Abigail Thomas, author of AN ACTUAL LIFE, GETTING OVER TOM, and A THREE DOG LIFE
“This is the book that I have been searching for for a long time. As a busy mom of three, I needed a “teaching book” that would give me concrete activities that I could work into my writing time. Reading this book and working on the subsequent “assignments” gives purpose to my very short writing time that I can squeeze into a day. If you are interested in writing memoir, but don’t know where or how to start…this is the book for you.”
Here are some quotes from GoodReads:
*****I’m reading this book in preparation for a class I’m teaching this fall. It’s a great guide to memoir writing. Breaks down writing technique into applicable, useful lessons. Writing exercises are useful and productive.–Sarah
*****This is now my new favorite writing book. I’ll keep the library copy until my own copy arrives and then carefully go through the 14 pages I folded the corners of and transpose them to my keeper. What amazes me is that there are ONLY 14 pages. In a book chock full of incredible coaching, there is also page after page of great tactics and sterling advice. Writing memoir is the hardest writing I’ve done and Bill’s book softens up the effort and lets me feel that yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. –Rena
*****A great book for anyone interested in the Art and Craft of creative non-fiction. This one will have a permanent home on my desk to be referred to over and over again. –Elizabeth
*****There is a ton of information packed into this book. A ton. It is geared toward nonfiction writers, but even so a fiction writer can bring away a new way of looking at their writing. –Sarah G.