The Norton Sampler begins
by featuring two essays that provide a glimpse of the writing
process as it unfolded for Pulitzer Prize winning author
Annie Dillard. Dillard's writing serves two important purposes
that can be helpful for the novice writer; her "Moth" essay
are the kind of wonderful writing that is both enjoyable
to read and interesting to dissect, as it were, in order
to think about the writing process. In the second essay,
Dillard reveals for us writing process at work, its fundamental
ties to both her own personal history and circumstances
and to her active and diligent devotion to the hard work
of writing. The essays below supplement these essays with
more examples of her writing and information about her
life, as well as reviews that help us to look at her writing,
and perhaps our own with a critical eye.
An extensive biography of Dillard:
Read the discussion with dillard published by the Yale
Who are some of the authors that influenced Dillard? How
would you characterize the kind of writing that Dillard
cites as having influenced her own work?
Read the interview with Dillard by BookPage in which Dillard
discusses her novel The Living. How did Dillard prepare
to write a book about the 19th century? Do you think this
kind of preparation is important for all writers?
A gold mine of reviews, articles,
and related links about Annie Dillard.
Read the article "Christmas Books: The Leg In The
Christmas Stocking: What We Learned From Jokes" from
Dillard's memoir, An American Childhood
This article is both a narrative and a commentary on narratives.
What did Dillard learn about the intricacies of telling
jokes? How do Dillard's lessons on joke telling relate
to some of the processes of writing discussed in the introduction
to the Norton Sampler?
In the essay "Write Till You Drop," Dillard
gives some interesting advice: Write as if you were dying,
and as if you were writing for someone who is dying. What
does she mean by this?
York Times books page provides reviews of Dillard's
works. Read the reviews of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,
An American Childhood and The Writing Life.
The reviewers all seem to agree that Dillard is an exceptional
writer and observer, and yet they each find something
about her work to criticize. What kinds of things do they
feel detract from Dillard's writings, and how can you use
their criticism to help craft your own writing?
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