Reading for Writers: The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

Lightning Droplets

Chapter 1.1

In her first chapter of The Writing Life, Annie Dillard begins to explain the complexities of writing.  She hones in on the process.  She starts with the importance of the word as a tool, a hammer, a pick, that gets to the root of the gold you are searching, plumbing depths and getting you closer to truth.  But she also asserts the need to know that many of your words will need to be scrapped, thrown away for the good of a piece.

This first chapter is a perfect example of sparseness that works.  Dillard moves back and forth between musing about writing and metaphors for writing.  For example, she tells of the inch worm that is constantly searching climbing a blade, “in constant panic” (7).  When putting forth her metaphors, she does not fumble with explication or transitions. Instead she boldly throws the metaphor out juxtaposed…

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