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Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 28. März 2005

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"William Zinsser is a born teacher. This book, full of charm and ingenuity, cannot fail to delight and instruct the would-be writer of personal narrative."


Written with elegance, warmth, and humor, this highly original "teaching memoir" by William Zinsserrenowned bestselling author of On Writing Well gives you the tools to organize and recover your past, and the confidence to believe in your life narrative. His method is to take you on a memoir of his own: 13 chapters in which he recalls dramatic, amusing, and often surprising moments in his long and varied life as a writer, editor, teacher, and traveler. Along the way, Zinsser pauses to explain the technical decisions he made as he wrote about his life. They are the same decisions you'll have to make as you write about your own life: matters of selection, condensation, focus, attitude, voice, and tone.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x99eb4d80) von 5 Sternen 67 Rezensionen
94 von 95 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x99b1a984) von 5 Sternen Master Teacher 16. Februar 2005
Von Edward A. Joseph - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
In Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past, William Zinsser uses the main technique of the master teacher: he demonstrates what he is trying to teach.

In the first of a series of mini-memoirs from his own life Zinsser tells the story of a phone message left on his answering machine from a woman who has a question about a paint primer that Zinsser's father had manufactured years before. In referring to an article he wrote about the message and the phone call that followed, the author shows how the work dealt with a number of themes: fathers and sons, family expectations, and filial duty, among others.

He tells us that he did not start out to write about these themes, but that they naturally evolved from the message and the phone conversation that followed. He then connects this to the two main premises of the book:

1. "Beware of deciding in advance how your memoir or family history will be organized and what it will say."

2. "Write about small self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory."

Zinsser uses this technique throughout the book; he shares an incident from his past, and then emphasizes a particular point about memoir writing.

Besides the teaching aspects of the book, another strength is the writing maxims sprinkled throughout. Some examples:

"Go with what interests and amuses you. Trust the process, and the product will take care of itself."

"Too short is always better than too long."

"All writers are embarked on a quest of some kind, and you're entitled to go on yours."

"Look for the human connection as you make your journey. Connect us to the people who connected with you."

"All writing is talking to someone else on paper. Talk like yourself."

In addition to helpful maxims, Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past reflects Zinseer's articles of faith (as stated in his signature work, On Writing Well) about what good nonfiction writing exhibits: humanity, clarity, simplicity, and vitality.

With so many books available on this topic why choose Writing About Your Life? Because William Zinseer is a master teacher. Reading Writing About Your Life (and On Writing Well) would be an excellent preparation for anyone thinking about writing a memoir.
38 von 39 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x99b1abd0) von 5 Sternen What better way to learn to write memoir? 26. April 2009
Von Mike Donovan - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
There was criticism in the reviews here at Amazon from someone who thought this was "nothing but a book of introspection." (I couldn't disagree more.) Yet, in the same review she said, "You learn to write from imitating good writing." Well, there is no better way that I know of, to learn about memoir writing than by reading a well-written memoir - with writing at its core! These essays from Zinsser form Exhibit A that well-written memoir is simply about telling your story with good, spare writing. He stresses that one must "get it down." That doesn't mean you must sit down and write your full-blown story, but write your story as the memories come - just get it down; no need to think you must sit and write it ALL right away. These essays are beautifully written and are perfect examples of what quality memoir writing is all about. He teaches by showing, and Zinsser is a master at telling stories that work his own memories in while weaving a basic course in How To Write.

If you're interested in writing your story, whether in long-form or in essay form that captures the essence of a life, this book is a must-read.
45 von 50 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x99b1ae10) von 5 Sternen Zinsser Does It Again! 4. Juni 2004
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I've always been a big fan of William Zinsser's books. As a professional biographer/memoirist, however, this one truly hits home. It's not only a perfect example of WHAT to do, but HOW to do it as well. For anyone aspiring to be a professional biographer, or if you're just interested in writing your own biography, all I can say is GET THIS BOOK! -- and get it NOW!
17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x99ccf0d8) von 5 Sternen As Much about Life as Writing 25. Juni 2010
Von John Bird - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
It isn't the writing advice that strikes me most about William Zinsser's On Writing Well. No doubt the advice is sound and helpful--the most helpful that I've found. But, concerning the mechanics of good writing, Zinsser doesn't tell the student of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style much that's new. Instead, it's his presentation that sets the book apart. Zinsser teaches writing through narrative full of what he calls "warmth and humanity." That's what brings me back to On Writing Well again and again, and that's why I had to read Writing about Your Life.

Just as On Writing Well grew out of a course that Zinsser taught at Yale, so Writing about Your Life is the "distillation" of a course that he teaches at New School in New York. The course, called "People and Places," teaches men and women how to write about their lives, something that Zinsser believes is important:

"Writers are the custodians of memory, and memories have a way of dying with their owner. One of the saddest sentences I know is 'I wish I had asked my mother about that'."

According to the author, this book has two premises. The first is to "beware of `about'." Instead of starting with an outline or picture of the finished project, writers should focus on one story at a time, being open to where their memory leads them. The end result may be much different than the initial idea. The second premise is to "think small." "Be content to tell your small portion of a larger story. Too short is always better than too long." Writers should avoid listing every detail of their life. "An interesting life doesn't make an interesting memoir. Only small pieces of life make an interesting memoir."

This book is not for those who are impatient with example. Zinsser doesn't give an outline, five steps, or a list of do's and don'ts. Instead, he tells stories from his own life, stopping along the way to discuss his writing, the choices he made, and the principles that guided those choices. Readers of On Writing Well with recognize some of the stories, which are expanded in this book. But there are many new ones, too. This method of teaching is an example in itself, as Zinsser asserts early on that "People love to be told stories." It works for me.

Zinsser says that a good memoir should teach the reader something about life. "Make your writing useful," he says. Referring to one of his music teachers, he writes: "Much of what Dwike Mitchell taught me about playing the piano has nothing to do with music. It has to do with conduct and character." The same can be said about this book, which I loved reading. Zinsser teaches us about conduct and character, without neglecting to teach what we want to know about writing. He is certainly one who knows how to write a story that is both enjoyable and useful.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x99ccf3a8) von 5 Sternen Great tips from a master author 25. Oktober 2010
Von Doug Pratt - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
>>>Because I wanted to take this book on my business trip the next day, I did not purchase this book from Amazon . However, I did look at the Amazon reviews prior to purchasing. Often I find that the 1-star or 2-star reviews can be the most helpful but, in the case of Writing About Your Life, those reviews are way off! As I spent a few minutes in the bookstore reading a few pages, I was immediately drawn in to Mr. Zinsser's narrative of his life.
>>>In a typical how-to book, you find a series of tips with three or four examples that relate just to that point. In Writing About Your Life, Mr. Zinsser interjects his tips as he progresses through the narrative of his experiences. The theme of his life and his recommendation for the most effective writing style is to write about what interests you. If a particular topic holds some interest to you, it will probably be of interest to others.
>>>This book takes a holistic approach to writing rather than a step-by-step blueprint for creating a written work. If you're looking for a book that doesn't require thinking, you will want to look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for model of what memoir writing should exemplify, you will enjoy and learn from this book.
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