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“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.” So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto" “The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.” So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto", "Truth and Beauty"), talks at length about her literary career—the highs and the lows—and shares advice on the craft and art of writing. In this fascinating look at the development of a novelist, we meet Patchett’s mentors (Allan Gurganas, Grace Paley, Russell Banks), see where she made wrong turns (poetry), and learn how she gets the pages written (an unromantic process of pure hard work). Woven through engaging anecdotes from Patchett’s life are lessons about writing that offer an inside peek into the storytelling process and provide a blueprint for anyone wanting to give writing a serious try. The bestselling author gives pointers on everything from finding ideas to constructing a plot to combating writer’s block. More than that, she conveys the joys and rewards of a life spent reading and writing.


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“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.” So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto" “The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.” So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto", "Truth and Beauty"), talks at length about her literary career—the highs and the lows—and shares advice on the craft and art of writing. In this fascinating look at the development of a novelist, we meet Patchett’s mentors (Allan Gurganas, Grace Paley, Russell Banks), see where she made wrong turns (poetry), and learn how she gets the pages written (an unromantic process of pure hard work). Woven through engaging anecdotes from Patchett’s life are lessons about writing that offer an inside peek into the storytelling process and provide a blueprint for anyone wanting to give writing a serious try. The bestselling author gives pointers on everything from finding ideas to constructing a plot to combating writer’s block. More than that, she conveys the joys and rewards of a life spent reading and writing.

30 review for The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    The Getaway Car! It never gets old, no matter how many times (at least three so far) I read it, and the only problem with it is that it's over too quickly. Now I desperately want to reread Truth and Beauty, but I'm not sure where either of my copies are. The reason I have two copies is that I desperately wanted to reread Truth and Beauty once before, couldn't find my copy, and bought another one. There's a lesson here: Keep your friends close and your Ann Patchett books closer. This axiom served The Getaway Car! It never gets old, no matter how many times (at least three so far) I read it, and the only problem with it is that it's over too quickly. Now I desperately want to reread Truth and Beauty, but I'm not sure where either of my copies are. The reason I have two copies is that I desperately wanted to reread Truth and Beauty once before, couldn't find my copy, and bought another one. There's a lesson here: Keep your friends close and your Ann Patchett books closer. This axiom served me well today, when I DNFed a drab romantic comedy and pulled The Getaway Car up on my phone for my commute home. No regrets. You should definitely take the time to read this if you're interested in writing or are an Ann Patchett fan. If you're not an Ann Patchett fan, thoughts & prayers. Ann Patchett 4 lyfe! THE END. Edited to add: Sorry, I guess it's not the end! Just wanted to mention that The Getaway Car was originally published as a short ebook but is also included in Ann's essay collection This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. So if you're read that book, you've already read The Getaway Car and you probably loved it. :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brandice

    “...even if it takes some digging, ideas are out there. Just open your eyes and look at the world. Writing the ideas down, it turns out, is the real trick...” ”You learn things about characters as you write them, so even if you think you know where things are heading, don’t set it in stone; you might change your mind. You have to let the action progress the way it must, not the way you want it to. You create an order for the universe and then you set that universe in motion.” I really enjoyed The “...even if it takes some digging, ideas are out there. Just open your eyes and look at the world. Writing the ideas down, it turns out, is the real trick...” ”You learn things about characters as you write them, so even if you think you know where things are heading, don’t set it in stone; you might change your mind. You have to let the action progress the way it must, not the way you want it to. You create an order for the universe and then you set that universe in motion.” I really enjoyed The Getaway Car, a short, part memoir, part advice book by Ann Patchett, an author I respect and whose novels I generally enjoy. The book is short, interesting, and packed with easy-to-read suggestions for writing. The bottom line is: commit to writing and be diligent about making it your craft. Everyone has a story to tell.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Booksaremyboyfriends

    THE GETAWAY CAR is Patchett’s mini-writing memoir and it’s my favorite work of hers to date. Girl had some making up to do. I’m a BEL CANTO fan, but I had very mixed feelings about this summer’s STATE OF WONDER. But all is forgiven because girl takes a hammer and NAILS it with this short and sweet memoir that tracks the ups and downs of her career through the sale of her first novel. Highlights include her tales of being one of Grace Paley’s student (Paley is so obviously Dr. Swenson in STATE OF THE GETAWAY CAR is Patchett’s mini-writing memoir and it’s my favorite work of hers to date. Girl had some making up to do. I’m a BEL CANTO fan, but I had very mixed feelings about this summer’s STATE OF WONDER. But all is forgiven because girl takes a hammer and NAILS it with this short and sweet memoir that tracks the ups and downs of her career through the sale of her first novel. Highlights include her tales of being one of Grace Paley’s student (Paley is so obviously Dr. Swenson in STATE OF WONDER), how Patchett was a University of Iowa 21-year-old wunderkind admittee and then how she completely screwed up her marriage and her teaching career and had to move back in with her mom and start waitressing, the novel that lived inside of her for years, and the snowy winter she spent at Cape Cod living next door to Elizabeth McCracken finally writing that little bitch of a book, a novel she referred to as her “getaway car,” the three-hundred-something pages that would whisk her out of the miserable existence she was stuck in and into the life she dreamed of leading. Read if you’re a writer, read if you’re a reader, read if you’re a human being living on the planet Earth. It’s such a gem and it’s, what, fifty pages? Get it did.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Catelyn May

    Sometimes I read a book at exactly the right moment. And every time it happens, I am struck by that peculiar feeling that I've received something valuable that I didn't even know I needed. I needed to read this and I read it at exactly the right moment, and that might color my feelings about it, but isn't that how it is with everything? When I was younger, mostly middle school and high school, I read books on writing. I never wrote much myself, as I knew that most of what I would attempt would be Sometimes I read a book at exactly the right moment. And every time it happens, I am struck by that peculiar feeling that I've received something valuable that I didn't even know I needed. I needed to read this and I read it at exactly the right moment, and that might color my feelings about it, but isn't that how it is with everything? When I was younger, mostly middle school and high school, I read books on writing. I never wrote much myself, as I knew that most of what I would attempt would be garbage and besides, I hate the sight of my own words. However, I absorbed a lot of information about the intricacies of plot, setting, character development and the like. Those books didn't teach me to write, and I didn't expect them to. They taught me to read. I read like a writer even though I'm not one. And that's one of the things I appreciate most about my younger self, my willingness to just lie there and really think about what I was reading, and judge it, and hold a miniature writers' workshop in my mind. When it comes to actual advice on writing, I've never expected to actually receive any that would apply to me, to the way I think, or to the way I write. I remember discussing Stephen King's On Writing (which was a fine book, don't get me wrong) with a group of reader/writer friends and feeling like I was the only one for whom the book was totally irrelevant, completely disconnected from my reality. Ditto for Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing. To make a long story short, this book was exactly what I thought I would never get. It's not a real how-to, and that's not what anyone needs, least of all me. I know how to write. I just can't for reasons that lie somewhere between my brain and my pen (or keyboard). Reading her description of her writing process, how she comes up with an idea, lets it grow into this huge, flowering, fully formed beautiful object in her mind, like a butterfly, was like reading my own thoughts. And then this: When putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach into the air and pluck the butterfly up. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It's not that I want to kill it, but it's the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page. [...] Everything that was beautiful about this living thing...is gone. What I'm left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That's the book. And that act of killing is the one thing I can't do. Of the short fiction I've written, afterwards, trying to explain that feeling that I've murdered a friend, I've never met anyone who felt similarly. It seems like for most people there's an urgency to writing--stories come alive on the page instead of dying there. There's so much more in this book that was relevant to me, but this really should be a book review and not a dissection of my personal problems. Sorry for the digression. Read this if you like Ann Patchett (curiously, I'm not much of a fan). Read this if you want to write.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    I absolutely loved Patchett's voice. I've never read any of her fiction, but I certainly want to now.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ginger Bensman

    In The Getaway Car, Ann Patchett gives us a glimpse of how and why she became a writer, and what it takes to be successful. This is a slim inspiring little gem of a book full of honesty and wisdom. Recommended if you are a writer or aspire to be one. I expect I’ll read it more than once.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    I did not intend to finish this in so quickly, I wanted to savor it, but I couldn't put it down. I like Ann.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    This is the first Ann Patchett I've read, outside of the occasional magazine article. I thought this memoir was absolutely terrific, and well-suited to the Kindle single format.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Edwards

    Writers are always looking for inspiration. Most of us know we will never write the Great American Novel, but we continue to write. Most of us also know we will never make our living as writers, and so we work other jobs to pay the bills while writing in the bits and pieces of time not filled by other concerns. When we think of an author like Ann Patchett, who has made the leap, has written successful novels of depth and substance that also afford her to pay the bills and live her life as a writ Writers are always looking for inspiration. Most of us know we will never write the Great American Novel, but we continue to write. Most of us also know we will never make our living as writers, and so we work other jobs to pay the bills while writing in the bits and pieces of time not filled by other concerns. When we think of an author like Ann Patchett, who has made the leap, has written successful novels of depth and substance that also afford her to pay the bills and live her life as a writer, we may think she has had advantages that we do not. She has been carried along on a magic carpet ride of privilege and connections and lofty offers that could not possibly apply to any of us. And to some extent, that has been the case. Good schools, amazing mentors, the benefit of working with great writers who taught her so much. She did seem destined for greatness. Until her first teaching job went sour, and her marriage fell apart, and suddenly, she found herself back home living with her mom and waitressing at TGIF. Ann Patchett. Famous novelist. Waitressing at TGIF. Let that sink in for a moment. If you are a fan of Ms. Patchett, like I am, and someone who writes (perhaps with the hope of publication), like I do, this little gem of a memoir (and I do mean little - you can read it in a couple of hours) is well worth your time. You will not learn anything new. You will learn that writing is about work, about time spent writing, about planning, about revision. We know the drill. But you will discover that even someone with every advantage can find herself down on her luck, in a dead-end job and a dead-end town, wondering how the hell to get out of there and pursue her life's dream. And rather than explore other options or settle for less, she decides to create her "getaway car" - the novel she needs to write to prove to herself that she can. Along the way we learn that college does not prepare you for writing a novel. Nothing prepares you for writing a novel except writing one. All novelists have different approaches and styles for their process. None is better than another. There is no magic formula, no hard and fast rule. You just have to trust what works for you. If you want to write, you have to practice writing. Just like playing the cello. None of this is news, but somehow, all of it, put together in the luminous yet pragmatic voice of Ann Patchett, becomes something more important than news, or tips, or how-to guides, or just whiling away the time as a famous author discusses her life. It becomes that most essential thing for writers. Inspiration. Which is why I feel I will read this small gift over and over again. While I work on my own "getaway car."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marieke

    I'm wavering between three and four stars. Patchett is not my favorite writer but she's a writer and I enjoy reading what authors have to say about how they do their work. I write, too, just in a totally different capacity, but it's still writing. I often find helpful things in essays like this, whether it's comfort (yes, it's normal to have demoralizing moments in the process of writing), or tips that might work for me when I have trouble focusing enough to get all that blasted information and I'm wavering between three and four stars. Patchett is not my favorite writer but she's a writer and I enjoy reading what authors have to say about how they do their work. I write, too, just in a totally different capacity, but it's still writing. I often find helpful things in essays like this, whether it's comfort (yes, it's normal to have demoralizing moments in the process of writing), or tips that might work for me when I have trouble focusing enough to get all that blasted information and bits of data compiled into cohesive sentences and paragraphs. Occasionally I didn't like Patchett's tone in this piece because it felt like she had become fed up with idiotic people, and although the anecdotes were admittedly funny, the way she wrote them she came across as rather dismissive and mean, which rubbed me the wrong way...perhaps she could have used this type of anecdote once and made her point. The repetition I think in this case detracted from the essay, rather than held it together. Also, I just felt uncomfortable, like I was overhearing two people over coffee vent about someone annoying--and maybe that is where she should have kept her venting instead of publishing it? Or not...because I did see her point AND these anecdotes were a little funny, but in an odd way. I just kept thinking, "really? People do that? How strange." and also I thought, "these people are fans of Patchett's work...will they read this and recognize themselves?" Squirm...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    This is a Kindle "Short" that I enjoyed very much. I have not read any of Patchett's other works but her discussion of how she approaches fiction intrigued me. I read this in two sittings so I'm not sure that I remember what the getaway car had to do with it, but this is a comfortable, entertaining read for those writerly types among us. Or I would imagine a fan of her work would enjoy reading this. She offers some advice for those "writerly" types who want to publish and she gives general writi This is a Kindle "Short" that I enjoyed very much. I have not read any of Patchett's other works but her discussion of how she approaches fiction intrigued me. I read this in two sittings so I'm not sure that I remember what the getaway car had to do with it, but this is a comfortable, entertaining read for those writerly types among us. Or I would imagine a fan of her work would enjoy reading this. She offers some advice for those "writerly" types who want to publish and she gives general writing advice that has worked for her. This short piece has made me think I'd like to try one of her novels some time in the future...only I don't know which one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Crytzer Fry

    Truly inspirational little memoir for writers. Filled with so many quote-worthy snippets ... though this one resonated with me greatly (and obviously with many others, given the number of Kindle "highlighters" on it): "I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Loved every word of this insanely wise and insightful account.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    'Was it possible that, in everybody’s lymph system, a nascent novel is knocking around? A few errant cells that, if given the proper encouragement, cigarettes and gin, the requisite number of bad affairs, could turn into something serious? Living a life is not the same as writing a book, and it got me thinking about the relationship between what we know and what we can put on paper. For me it’s like this: I make up a novel in my head. (There will be more about this later.) This is the happiest t 'Was it possible that, in everybody’s lymph system, a nascent novel is knocking around? A few errant cells that, if given the proper encouragement, cigarettes and gin, the requisite number of bad affairs, could turn into something serious? Living a life is not the same as writing a book, and it got me thinking about the relationship between what we know and what we can put on paper. For me it’s like this: I make up a novel in my head. (There will be more about this later.) This is the happiest time in the arc of my writing process. The book is my invisible friend, omnipresent, evolving, thrilling. During the months (or years) it takes me to put my ideas together, I don’t take notes or make outlines; I’m figuring things out, and all the while the book makes a breeze around my head like an oversize butterfly whose wings were cut from the rose window in Notre Dame. This book, of which I have not yet written one word, is a thing of indescribable beauty, unpredictable in its patterns, piercing in its color, so wild and loyal in its nature that my love for this book and my faith in it as I track its lazy flight is the single perfect joy in my life. It is the greatest novel in the history of literature, and I have thought it up, and all I have to do is put it down on paper and then everyone can see this beauty that I see.  And so I do, even though I dread it. When I can’t think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach into the air and pluck the butterfly up. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It’s not that I want to kill it, but it’s the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page. Just to make sure the job is done, I stick it into place with a pin. Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing—all the color, the light and movement—is gone. What I’m left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That’s the book.'

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I think I would read anything this woman has written. I don’t even want to be a writer and I found this 47 page mini-memoir really interesting and insightful.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mayra

    I’ve never read a book or a short story by Ann Patchett before and I can’t tell you that I ever will—I passed Bel Canto more times than I could count when I worked at Borders without feeling any urge to pick it up. I also can’t tell you why I decided to pay $2.99 for an ebook by an author I’d never read before, when I haven’t read writing memoirs in almost a decade. But here we are. I bought it, I read it, I loved it and I learned from it. This is super short, under a hundred pages (or a hundred I’ve never read a book or a short story by Ann Patchett before and I can’t tell you that I ever will—I passed Bel Canto more times than I could count when I worked at Borders without feeling any urge to pick it up. I also can’t tell you why I decided to pay $2.99 for an ebook by an author I’d never read before, when I haven’t read writing memoirs in almost a decade. But here we are. I bought it, I read it, I loved it and I learned from it. This is super short, under a hundred pages (or a hundred “Kindle locations”, whatever the hell that is,) and Patchett tries to pack as much wisdom as she can into those locations. She is very careful at the beginning to specify that the methods and routines she describes in her book are very personal and that they don’t work for everyone. The tone she takes, then, isn’t one of total authority but one of suggestion. I’ve been interested in writing for a long time and I have an idea of what works and what doesn’t for me. Reading about Pratchett’s methods inspired me to rethink what I do and why I do it. Some of her advice is pretty universal, though: Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art, you must master the craft. If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say. Write the story, learn from it, put it away, write another story. She also gives some pointers about MFA programs and their usefulness. I got the impression that her experience wasn’t as favorable as others’, but she says the three most important things she got from attending the Iowa Writers Workshop was the time to write without distraction, the opportunity to meet other writers who could give her useful criticism, and the skill to discern which criticism was useful in the first place. I found these passages especially poignant, because I would like to attend an MFA program and I’m always on the prowl for other people’s thoughts about them. She also learned how to teach others working as a teaching assistant as part of her financial aid package: I was forced to think through every idea I had about a story, to support all of those ideas with examples from the text, and articulate my thoughts in a cogent manner. In short, I started to study how writers did what they did with a great deal more diligence, because I had to explain it to soemone else. I’ve often wished there had been a way for me to teach before being a student—Teaching made me so much better at studying. There’s some more stuff, about how to find story ideas, about how to beat periods of stagnation (also known as “writer’s block”, which she insists isn’t real), about how to go about finding an agent and getting published in literary magazines. It’s all very short and to the point, but useful information nonetheless. Most of all, what I got from this short memoir was a slap across the face. I desperately want to tell stories and to do that, I need to sit down at my desk and write. No censuring, no overthinking, no procrastinating. Just putting pen to paper or fingers to keys and producing a stream of words that will hopefully mean something. Once that’s done, I can worry about everything else.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joe Flood

    The questions I get most about writing are the practical ones. What do you write with? Where do you write? How do you find time to write? Answers to these questions are supplied by novelist Ann Patchett in The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life. It's like a FAQ for aspiring writers. Do you need to get an MFA in Creative Writing? Not if it means going into debt, according the prudent Patchett. Should you turn your desk away from the window, to avoid distractions? "Desk positionin The questions I get most about writing are the practical ones. What do you write with? Where do you write? How do you find time to write? Answers to these questions are supplied by novelist Ann Patchett in The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life. It's like a FAQ for aspiring writers. Do you need to get an MFA in Creative Writing? Not if it means going into debt, according the prudent Patchett. Should you turn your desk away from the window, to avoid distractions? "Desk positioning does not a real writer make," according to the author. Are you really a writer? Spend one hour a day for thirty days writing to find out. Sit down and do the work. You'll be amazed at how much you can accomplish. She also believes that writer's block is a myth. If you were stumped by a complicated math problem, do you have math block? No, you're still working on the problem, even if you have no evident progress. Patchett also punctures the idea that "everyone has a great novel in them." Would you say that everyone has a five-minute mile in them? Writing is a craft that must be learned. Her description of plot is the best I've ever read: "The plot of a novel should be like walking down a busy city street: First there are all the other people around you, the dog walkers and the skateboarders, the couples fighting, the construction guys swearing and shouting, the pretty girl on teetering heels who causes those construction guys to turn around for a split second of silence. There are drivers hitting the brakes, diving birds slicing between buildings, and the suddenly ominous clouds banking to the west. All manner of action and movement is rushing towards you and away. But that isn’t enough. You should also have the storefronts at street level and the twenty stories of apartments full of people and their babies and their dreams. Below the street, there should be infrastructure: water, sewer, electricity. Maybe there’s a subway down there as well, and it’s full of people." This rang true with me. A novel can't be just about one thing. All your characters, even the most minor ones, are heading somewhere, pursuing their own destinies. They exist in a dynamic world and, if it's a good novel, are worthy of stories of their own. The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life is a Kindle Single. It's a slim volume but at $2.99 is a bargain for anyone seeking answers on the craft of writing and the realities of the writing life.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angela Burke

    Fascinating and quick read. I can never resist writers on writing.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    One of the best practical books about writing, and it's only 45 pages. I encourage you to read, but here is the takeaway. If you want to write, you have to put in time writing. You can't wait for it to be perfect. You just have to start and start exercising those writing muscles. One of Ann Patchett's great points is that we accept that to get better at music and sports, you have to spend time engaging in those activities, but for some reason when it comes to writing, people seem to think you ca One of the best practical books about writing, and it's only 45 pages. I encourage you to read, but here is the takeaway. If you want to write, you have to put in time writing. You can't wait for it to be perfect. You just have to start and start exercising those writing muscles. One of Ann Patchett's great points is that we accept that to get better at music and sports, you have to spend time engaging in those activities, but for some reason when it comes to writing, people seem to think you can just sit and wait until you're inspired, and then it will all come naturally. Try that out without getting good at music or sports. See how it is to sit around and wait for inspiration before you compose the perfect song or compete perfectly. On the topic of perfection, she's got a nice metaphor for what it's like to sit and write your ideas down on paper. The ideas are floating butterflies above your head, and what you want to do is pluck them from the sky and delicately pin them to a board, encase them, and display them as your art. But what really happens is that the butterflies float around and then get swooshed into oncoming traffic and run over by an SUV, and that's when you come along and gather them and try to get them into some kind of shape that you can display them, all crunched to pieces, as art. That's your writing. That's what writing is. Another writer once said that it might be the muse that feeds you your lines, but she can only do that if you show up for work. Patchett suggests if you can't do at least an hour a day for a month, bottom in chair, writing, maybe you ought not bother. Cold advice, but that said, she also says do bother. Try to bother.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rui

    The full trajectory, from certainty about becoming a writer ("I may have been shaky about tying my shoes and telling time, but I was sure about my career, and I consider this certainty the greatest gift of my life"), to paralyzing self-criticism ("Before long I was able to think the sentence, anticipate her critique of it, and decide against it, all without ever uncapping my pen") and, finally, making peace with the transition between perfect book residing in the brain and degraded representatio The full trajectory, from certainty about becoming a writer ("I may have been shaky about tying my shoes and telling time, but I was sure about my career, and I consider this certainty the greatest gift of my life"), to paralyzing self-criticism ("Before long I was able to think the sentence, anticipate her critique of it, and decide against it, all without ever uncapping my pen") and, finally, making peace with the transition between perfect book residing in the brain and degraded representation on the page ("I never learned how to take the beautiful thing in my imagination and put it on paper without feeling I killed it along the way. I did, however, learn how to weather the death, and I learned how to forgive myself for it.") It prays at the Altar of Craft, like all books about writing seem to in this century (lest literature be accused of childish self-indulgence in a world with Very Serious Problems, I suppose). The description of literary companionship between Ann Patchett and Elizabeth McCracken is beautiful. One of the best books about the psychological requirements of writing that I've read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    3 1/2 stars I'm wondering why I haven't read more of Ann Patchett's works? I'm not even a writer and yet found this "Practical Memoir About Writing and Life" inspiring. I especially enjoyed learning about her writing process for The Patron Saint of Liars, the one Patchett book I have read and really liked.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trish Bachman

    If you dream of being a writer this essay is for you. Patchett shares a little of her backstory and presents some helpful tips.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I'm familiar with Ann Patchett, but I'd never read her work, and I'd never heard about this book. But in the final episodes of David Sedaris's MasterClass, he recommends it with such ardor, I had to look for it. It's a very short book, but not an easy book to find. I tracked it down on a site that offered it as a free ebook download and read it on Apple Books. This is Patchett's memoir as a writer. She describes her experiences, from grad school to workshops and retreats. She pays tribute to thos I'm familiar with Ann Patchett, but I'd never read her work, and I'd never heard about this book. But in the final episodes of David Sedaris's MasterClass, he recommends it with such ardor, I had to look for it. It's a very short book, but not an easy book to find. I tracked it down on a site that offered it as a free ebook download and read it on Apple Books. This is Patchett's memoir as a writer. She describes her experiences, from grad school to workshops and retreats. She pays tribute to those who taught her (including Russell Banks). And talks about her process. Writing is Patchett's getaway car. She's more practical than encouraging in her advice, which ultimately comes to this: "Do you want to do this thing? Sit down and do it." As a writer, I love books about writing. Stephen King's On Writing, Wallace Stegner's On Teaching and Writing Fiction, Anne Lamonte's Bird by Bird, and Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones are some of my favorites. Even Luke Sullivan's Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This is the copywriter's contribution to the genre. I like reading these kinds of books, because they reinforce what I know, encourage me to keep going, and always give me a few new things to consider.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Georgiana

    Won a copy of this Kindle single when joining byliner.com. I've heard parts of it before, in various talks given by Ann Patchett (and posted online). I enjoyed listening to the talks more than reading this single. I'm not interested in writing fiction, but many of the suggestions made by AP have to do with good work habits, not exclusively with writing. Favorite quotes: “It's a wonderful thing to find a great teacher, but you also have to find him or her at a time in life when you're able to liste Won a copy of this Kindle single when joining byliner.com. I've heard parts of it before, in various talks given by Ann Patchett (and posted online). I enjoyed listening to the talks more than reading this single. I'm not interested in writing fiction, but many of the suggestions made by AP have to do with good work habits, not exclusively with writing. Favorite quotes: “It's a wonderful thing to find a great teacher, but you also have to find him or her at a time in life when you're able to listen to, trust, and implement the lessons you receive.” “An essential element of being a writer is learning whom to listen to and whom to ignore where your work is concerned.” “I could see the genius in not having given 100 percent of myself over to writing before. It had kept me from ever having to come to terms with how good I was -- or wasn't.” “Writer's block is something out of control, like a blocked kidney -- we are not responsible. We are, however, entirely responsible for procrastination, and in the best of all possible worlds, we should also be responsible for being honest with ourselves about what is really going on.” “The lesson is this: The more we are willing to separate from distraction and step into the open arms of boredom, the more writing will get on the page.” “Do you really want to write? Sit for two hours a day. During that time, you don't have to write, but you must stay at your desk without distraction: no phone, no Internet, no books. Sit. Still. Quietly. Do this for a week, for two weeks. Do not nap or check your e-mail. Keep on sitting for as long as you remain interested in writing. Sooner or later you will write because you will no longer be able to stand not writing -- or you'll get up and turn the television on because you will no longer be able to stand all the sitting. Either way, you'll have your answer.” “Now when people tell me they're desperate to write a book [...] I tell them to give this great dream that is burning them down like a house on fire one lousy hour a day for one measly month, and when they've done that -- one month, every single day -- to call me back and we'll talk. They almost never call back.”

  25. 4 out of 5

    Juan Ignacio Gelos

    “The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto", "Truth and Beauty"), talks at length about her literary career—the highs and the lows—and shares advice on the craft and ar “The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto", "Truth and Beauty"), talks at length about her literary career—the highs and the lows—and shares advice on the craft and art of writing. In this fascinating look at the development of a novelist, we meet Patchett’s mentors (Allan Gurganas, Grace Paley, Russell Banks), see where she made wrong turns (poetry), and learn how she gets the pages written (an unromantic process of pure hard work). Woven through engaging anecdotes from Patchett’s life are lessons about writing that offer an inside peek into the storytelling process and provide a blueprint for anyone wanting to give writing a serious try. The bestselling author gives pointers on everything from finding ideas to constructing a plot to combating writer’s block. More than that, she conveys the joys and rewards of a life spent reading and writing. “What I like about the job of being a novelist, and at the same time what I find so exhausting about it, is that it’s the closest thing to being God that you’re ever going to get,” she writes. “All of the decisions are yours. You decide when the sun comes up. You decide who gets to fall in love...”In this Byliner Original by the new digital publisher Byliner, "The Getaway Car" is a delightful autobiography-cum-user’s guide that appeals to both inspiring writers and anyone who loves a great story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Happyreader

    Apparently one of the downsides of being a best-selling author is that you’re constantly inundated by offers from insistent strangers to take advantage of the fabulous opportunity to write their enthralling life stories. For a 50/50 split of the profits, of course, since they’d write it themselves if they had the time. This short piece essentially says feel free to dig out that inner great novel yourself because she’s not going to write it for you. Just realize that you’ll need talent, drive, dis Apparently one of the downsides of being a best-selling author is that you’re constantly inundated by offers from insistent strangers to take advantage of the fabulous opportunity to write their enthralling life stories. For a 50/50 split of the profits, of course, since they’d write it themselves if they had the time. This short piece essentially says feel free to dig out that inner great novel yourself because she’s not going to write it for you. Just realize that you’ll need talent, drive, discipline, some great teachers and reviewers, and hopefully a seven-month fellowship to write in near isolation in Provincetown. Oh, and you’ll have to be willing to forgive yourself for killing that dreamlike tale as you affix it with language and structure that never seem adequate to your vision. On the upside, there are research trips down the Amazon and the opportunity to send those fascinating would-be protagonists down the autograph line to Amy Bloom so that she can take advantage of their literary crude ore.

  27. 5 out of 5

    A.C. Collins

    I LOVE to read books about writing, especially the memoirs. I've read a few of Patchett's books and I prefer the nonfiction, this especially included. I like her practical stance on MFA programs (don't go in debt for one) and her honest sharing of how difficult writing can be and how completely stubborn the writer can be (about writing). Patchett had the benefit of studying under some of America's premier authors and argues you can teach a person to write, albeit only in sentence structure, plot I LOVE to read books about writing, especially the memoirs. I've read a few of Patchett's books and I prefer the nonfiction, this especially included. I like her practical stance on MFA programs (don't go in debt for one) and her honest sharing of how difficult writing can be and how completely stubborn the writer can be (about writing). Patchett had the benefit of studying under some of America's premier authors and argues you can teach a person to write, albeit only in sentence structure, plot and character development, and you can encourage a writer to keep writing, which is perhaps the most one can do for an aspiring writer. But you can not teach a person character or experience - they have to get that on their own. I thoroughly enjoyed this work - it's a short one read on my Kindle and can be devoured in a single sitting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Warm, smart, and funny. Great reading for any writer no matter what stage of a career they might be at. I found it incredibly reassuring and kind, and I marked several sections with (electronic) highlights so that I can go back and re-read them again next time I'm battling self-doubt and insecurity. Also, I read several anecdotes out loud to my husband because they were so funny! But my favorite section was the one on her friendships with other writers, which was so true and so powerful. I loved Warm, smart, and funny. Great reading for any writer no matter what stage of a career they might be at. I found it incredibly reassuring and kind, and I marked several sections with (electronic) highlights so that I can go back and re-read them again next time I'm battling self-doubt and insecurity. Also, I read several anecdotes out loud to my husband because they were so funny! But my favorite section was the one on her friendships with other writers, which was so true and so powerful. I loved it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kaytee Cobb

    Read this for the #MMDReadingChallenge as a "book you can read in a day", or a morning, as the case may be. it was short and witty and insightful. even if you don't have dreams of writing, I think that Patchett's advice is kind of universally applicable: put in the time, do what you love, work through the process, just sit down and do it. Recommended, and a very short easy read anyone can finish in a day.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Guy Austin

    Just 45 pages - it is packed very efficiently with great personal history and professional wisdom. In reading I was hearing echo's of Outliers by Malcom Gladwell in that there are no lucky accidents in becoming a successful published writer. It also peaked my interest in reading her writing. Commonwealth is going to be a TBR for sure.

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