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Introduction

Annie Dillard Essays

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:

4http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~sparks/dillard/bio.htm

Read the discussion with dillard published by the Yale Herald. 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?

4http://www.yaleherald.com/archive/xxii/10.4.96/ae/dillard.html

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?

4 http://www.bookpage.com/BPinterviews/dillard492.html

A gold mine of reviews, articles, and related links about Annie Dillard.

4http://partners.nytimes.com/books/99/03/28/specials/dillard.html#reviews

Read the article "Christmas Books: The Leg In The Christmas Stocking: What We Learned From Jokes" from Dillard's memoir, An American Childhood

4http://partners.nytimes.com/books/99/03/28/specials/dillard-christmas.html

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?

4http://partners.nytimes.com/books/99/03/28/specials/dillard.html

The New 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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