In this rich treasury, two prolific and successful authors provide advice, cautions, pointers, and encouragement on becoming a happy and productive writer. You’ll learn how to organize your life to focus on writing, how to get started each day, how to protect yourself from distractions, how to keep things simple, how to replenish your creativity.
You’ll discover the Asimovs’ way of surviving the torture of waiting for a publisher’s response, and how to handle a scathing review (write a devestating rebuttal, put it in an envelope, affix a stamp, seal it…then tear it up and throw it away). They share theri considerable experience in the writing of fiction (particularly science-fiction and mysteries); non-fiction, including science for the general reader; and children’s books, a field in which they write both as individuals and in collaboration.
The Asimovs make their points with essays, anecdotes, and husband-wife dialogues, along with cartoons by Sidney Harris on the agonies of authorship, and many quotes on the writer’s craft by writers the authors admire.
The book concludes with a description of their working library: a collection of beloved, reread, useful books that the authors find essential to their own enjoyment of writing.
Here is a spirited, upbeat guide for hopeful beginners—as well as seasoned professionals—on the hazards and rewards of the writer’s life.
This is (officially) a collaboration between Janet and Isaac Asimov, but as with most of the other such collaborations, it’s written mostly by Janet with minor contributions from Isaac. In this case, Janet has culled Isaac’s writings for what he says about writing itself and included assorted passages here and there.
My own feelings about this book are mixed. There’s something about Janet Asimov’s style which has always grated with me, I don’t know what it is (although she’s in good company here, since the same is true of Robert A. Heinlein). It’s hard, therefore, for me to objectively evaluate what she writes. I guess I’m a little vague on what the book is supposed to accomplish, since most amateur writers I know don’t need to be pumped up, they need to learn restraint and how do handle the mechanics of writing a good story and getting it published. (Of course, maybe I’m thinking mostly of myself here.)
My main reason for marking the book down is, however, its uneven style. It’s often hard to tell whether it’s Isaac or Janet talking to us (with their vastly different perspectives), and with quotations scattered hither and yon, it gets a bit choppy. Janet knows how to gather material together (and I, for one, am especially appreciative of the cartoons), but not always how to organize it well.
On the other hand, it’s a good look at Asimov’s attitudes towards writing as a profession. This is, of course, something he covers at length elsewhere, so I don’t think this book is indispensable, but it is handy to have hanging around.