Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process

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A stunning masterclass on the creative process, the craft of writing, and the art of finding inspiration from Stephen King, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, Roxane Gay, Neil Gaiman, and more of the most acclaimed writers at work today

"For artists in need of a creative fix, Light the Dark is as good as a visit from the divine muse." -Bookpage

What inspires you? That's the simple, but profound question posed to forty-six renowned authors in LIGHT THE DARK. Each writer begins with a favorite passage from a novel, a song, a poem—something that gets them started and keeps them going with the creative work they love. From there, incredible lessons and stories of life-changing encounters with art emerge, like how sneaking books into his job as a night security guard helped Khaled Hosseini learn that nothing he creates will ever be truly finished. Or how a college reading assignment taught Junot Díaz that great art can be a healing conversation, and an unexpected poet led Elizabeth Gilbert to embrace an unyielding optimism, even in the face of darkness. LIGHT THE DARK collects the best of The Atlantic's much-acclaimed "By Heart" series edited by Joe Fassler and adds brand new pieces, each one paired with a striking illustration. Here is a guide to creative living and writing in the vein of Daily Rituals, Bird by BirdDraft No. 4, and Big Magic for anyone who wants to learn how great writers find inspiration—and to find some of your own.

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS: Elizabeth Gilbert, Junot Díaz, Marilynne Robinson, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Mary Gaitskill, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Roxane Gay, Angela Flournoy, Jonathan Franzen, Yiyun Li, Leslie Jamison, Claire Messud,  Edwidge Danticat, David Mitchell, Khaled Hosseini, Ayana Mathis, Kathryn Harrison, Azar Nafisi,  Hanya Yanagihara, Jane Smiley, Nell Zink, Emma Donoghue, Jeff Tweedy, Eileen Myles, Maggie Shipstead, Sherman Alexie, Andre Dubus III, Billy Collins, Lev Grossman, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Charles Simic, Jim Shepard,  T.C. Boyle, Tom Perrotta, Viet Thanh Nguyen, William Gibson, Mark Haddon, Ethan Canin, Jesse Ball, Jim Crace, and Walter Mosley.

"As [these authors] reveal what inspires them, they, in turn, inspire the reader, all while celebrating the beauty and purpose of art." -Booklist
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About the author

Joe Fassler (Editor) is a writer based in Brooklyn. He regularly interviews authors for The Atlantic’s “By Heart” series. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa MFA program, and his fiction has appeared in The Boston Review and Electric Literature. In 2011, his reporting for TheAtlantic.com was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation Award in Journalism. He is currently a senior editor at The New Food Economy.

Doug McLean (Illustrator) is an artist and illustrator based in the Boston area. He has an MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University and has been contributing drawings for the “By Heart” series since 2013.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Sep 26, 2017
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781524704643
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Composition & Creative Writing
Literary Collections / Essays
Self-Help / Creativity
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From Stephen Koch, former chair of Columbia University’s graduate creative writing program, comes essential and practical advice drawn from The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop.
 
With nearly thirty years of teaching experience, Stephen Koch has earned a reputation as an astute and benevolent mentor; and with Advice to the Writer, his lucid observations and commonsense techniques have never been more accessible. Here Koch dispenses sound guidance for those moments when the muse needs a little help finding her way: in “Shaping the Story,” he untangles plot; in “Working and Reworking,” he explains the most teachable (yet least often taught) of all writerly skills: revision; and in “The Story of the Self,” he delves into autobiography. Featuring handpicked commentary from some of our greatest authors, Advice to the Writer is a unique introduction to this maddening and intoxicating pursuit.
 
Praise for Stephen Koch’s The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop
 
“An extraordinarily comprehensive and practical work by a master craftsman and a master analyst of the craft.”—Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls’ Rising and Anything Goes
 
“Stephen Koch was my teacher long ago. Now he is everyone’s teacher, indelibly. This is a book not just for the beginning writer but for every writer.”—Martha McPhee, author of the National Book Award nominee Gorgeous Lies
 
“The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop is a treasure trove of wisdom, both immensely practical and philosophical, entertaining and thought-provoking. Koch takes us inside the writing process, and it is impossible not to emerge transformed.”—Joanna Hershon, author of Swimming
The best writers say their work seems to come from a source beyond the thinking mind. But how do we access that source? “We must first look inside ourselves and be willing to touch that raw emotional core at the heart of a deeper creativity,” writes Albert Flynn DeSilver. In Writing as a Path to Awakening, this renowned poet, writer, and teacher shows you how to use meditation to cultivate true depth in your own writing—so your words reveal layers of profound insight that inspire and move your readers.
 
Constructed as a year-long exploration with a new focus for each month and season, Writing as a Path to Awakening includes:
 
• How to approach writing and reading with a greater level of presence and immersion
• Engaging curiosity, playfulness, and spontaneity to keep your regular practice fresh
• Meditating with poetry to deeply embody the power of language
• How you can spark your imagination by connecting to the groundless source of creation
• The meditative approach to storytelling—how not being trapped in your story liberates your capacity to create
• Editing, rewriting, and the path of spiritual transformation
 
“Writing and meditation practice are a powerful pair, a dynamic duo,” Albert Flynn DeSilver teaches. “Together they nourish and push, trigger and define, inform and inspire, enable, and energize. To engage in both practices fully is to activate a more complete, creative, and spiritual self.” With a mixture of engaging storytelling and practical exercises, Writing as a Path to Awakening invites you on a yearlong journey of growth and discovery—to enhance your writing through the practice of meditation while using the creative process to accelerate your spiritual evolution.
Named a Best Book by: TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, New York Public Library, Boston Globe, The Paris Review, Mother Jones,The A.V. Club, Out Magazine, Book Riot, Electric Literature, PopSugar, The Rumpus, My Republica, Paste, Bitch, Library Journal, Flavorwire, Bustle, Christian Science Monitor, Shelf Awareness, Tor.com, Entertainment Cheat Sheet, Roads and Kingdoms, Chicago Public Library, Hyphen Magazine, Entropy Magazine,The Chicago Review of Books, The Coil, iBooks, and Washington Independent Review of Books

Winner of the Publishing Triangle's Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction * Recipient of the Lambda Literary Trustees' Award
Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay * Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography

From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activist—and how we form our identities in life and in art.

As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as “masterful” by Roxane Gay, “incendiary” by the New York Times, and "brilliant" by the Washington Post. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, he’s sure to secure his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation as well.
 
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.
 
By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.
ÿWriting for Blissÿis most fundamentally about reflection, truth, and freedom. With techniques and prompts for both the seasoned and novice writer, it will lead you totap into your creativity through storytelling and poetry,examine how life-changing experiences can inspire writing,pursue self-examination and self-discovery through the written word, and,understand how published writers have been transformed by writing.Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab?s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ?permission to take... a voyage of self-discovery.? The book?s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ?read like a writer,? and on addressing readers as if ?seated across the table .? Raab covers big topics such as the ?art and power of storytelling? and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ?finding your form.?
--PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

"Writing for Blissÿis about the profound ways in which we may be transformed in and through the act of writing. I am grateful to Diana Raab for sharing it, and I trust that you will feel the same as you read on. May you savor the journey."
--from the foreword by MARK FREEMAN, PhD

"By listening to ourselves and being aware of what we are saying and feeling, the true story of our life's past experience is revealed. Diana Raab?s book gives us the insights by which we can achieve this through her life-coaching wisdom and our writing."
--BERNIE SIEGEL, MD, author ofÿThe Art of Healing

"Only a talented writer who has fought hard to overcome life?s many obstacles could take her readers by the hand and lead them through the writing process with such enormous compassion, amazing insight, and kindness. Diana Raab is a powerful, wise, intelligent guide well worth our following."
--JAMES BROWN, author ofÿThe Los Angeles DiariesÿandÿThe River

"Writing for Blissÿis far more than a 'how-to manual'; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure. Bravo to Bliss!"
--LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author ofÿSearching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton

"Uniquely blending inspiring insights with practical advice, Diana guides you on a path to discover the story that is truly inside you?and yearning to be told."
--PATRICK SWEENEY, coauthor of the New York Times bestsellerÿSucceed on Your Own Terms

DIANA RAAB, PhD, is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, workshop facilitator, thought provoker, and survivor. She?s the author of eight books and over one thousand articles and poems. She lives in Southern California. Learn more at www.DianaRaab.com
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