On Keeping a Notebook by Joan Didion - A great essay about making notes that gets to the very core of the writing process
Write Like a Motherfucker by Cheryl Strayed - Raw, emotional advice on the role of humility and surrender in the often tortured world of the writer
Thoughts on Writing by Elizabeth Gilbert - On disicpline, hard work, rejection and why it’s never too late to start
Write Till You Drop by Annie Dillard - “Do you think I could be a writer?” “I don’t know… . Do you like sentences?”
Everything you Need to Know About Writing Successfully - in Ten Minutes by Stephen King - Short, sharp advice on everything from talent and self-criticism to having fun and entertaining your audience
Why I Write by George Orwell - On egoism, a love of beauty, the quest for truth and the desire to change the world — Orwell’s ‘four great motive for writing’.
Despite Tough Guys, Life Is Not the Only School for Real Novelists by Kurt Vonnegut - A beautifully argued defence of the role of teaching in developing writers.
That Crafty Feeling by Zadie Smith - A lecture by a great essayist and novelist on the craft of writing.
A Place You All Know Well by Michael Chabon - On the central role of exporation in writing.
The Nature of Fun by David Foster Wallace (excerpt) - DFW on what drives writers to write
Uncanny the Singing That Comes from Certain Husks by Joy Williams - “Who cares if the writer is not whole? Of course the writer is not whole, or even particularly well…”
Where Do You Get Your Ideas? by Neil Gaiman - A meditation on inspriation
Those Words That Echo…Echo…Echo Through Life by Jamaica Kincaid - Another great essay from the the New York Times Writers on Writing series
If you any suggestions for additions, let us know!
Truman Capote, “Shut a Final Door”
Bright Eyes//It’s Cool We Can Still Be Friends
Yeah, you even sleep over sometimes
But we stay in our clothes
I’m only there so you’re not alone
As the poems go into thousands you realize that you’ve created very little.
— Charles Bukowski
Every time I do something illicit or wrong for myself, I feel like an aztec king on top of a pyramid and my people are all down— tens of thousands of my followers stomping their feet— and I fucking thrust a knife into my body and blood hits the altar and it starts to rain. That’s how I feel every time I eat an entire pizza.
— Pete Holmes (via probablyghosts)
The coffee looked very harsh, very direct, and of a mean color, but I drank some, because the tonic was gone, now, and I had to do something. I don’t smoke.
—Dorothy Baker, Cassandra at the Wedding
Got a photo of an NYRB Classic posed with a cup of coffee or tea? Send it to this address and we’ll add it to the Classics and Coffee Club series. And let us know where you bought or borrowed the book from—we’d be glad to shout out places that stock NYRB Classics.