Gail Godwin was twenty-four years old when she wrote: “I want to be everybody who is great; I want to create everything that has ever been created.” It is a declaration that only a wildly ambitious young writer would make in the privacy of her journal. Now, in The Making of a Writer, Godwin has distilled her early journals, which run from 1961 to 1963, to their brilliant and charming essence. She conveys the feverish period following the breakup of her first marriage; the fateful decision to move to Europe and the shock of her first encounters with Danish customs (and Danish men); the pleasures of soaking in the human drama on long rambles through the London streets and the torment of lonely Sundays spent wrestling these impressions into prose; and the determination to create despite rejection and a growing stack of debts. “I do not feel like a failure,” Godwin insists. “I will keep writing, harder than ever.”
Brimming with urgency and wit, Godwin’s inspiring tome opens a shining window into the life and craft of a great writer just coming into her own.
“A generous gift from a much-loved author to her readers.”
“Full of lively, entertaining observations on the literary life . . . [captures] the spirit of a young writer’s adventure into foreign lands and foreign realms of thought and creative endeavor.”
–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“As cities and continents and men change, the entries are borne along by . . . the young Godwin’s fierce conviction that she is meant to write fiction and her desire to distract herself from this mission with any man who catches her eye.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“[Godwin] describes a high-wire act of love and work. . . . She espouses fierce, uncompromising ideas about fiction.”
–Los Angeles Times
“[Gail Godwin’s journals] are a gold mine.”
–The Boston Globe
About the Author
Gail Godwin is the author of ten novels, three of which were nominated for National Book Awards. A Southern Family and Father Melancholy's Daughter were both NYT bestsellers and Main Selections of the Book of the Month Club. She has been translated into 12 languages. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and the recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and letters. She holds a doctorate in Modern Letters from the University of Iowa and has taught in the Iowa writers Workshop, Vassar and Columbia. A native of Asheville, N.C., she now lives in Woodstock, N.Y.
For 20 years, Rob Neufeld has written about the literature and history of western North Carolina for the Asheville Citizen-Times. He has led acclaimed region-wide reading programs for seven years as the director of Together We Read and now as the director of Mountain Lit. Neufeld also created The Read on WNC (thereadonwnc.ning.com), a website for regional books and heritage. Ron Rash called Neufeld "the person who has done more than anyone else to promote reading in this region." Neufeld has published books of local interest and collaborated with author Gail Godwin on The Making of a Writer: Journals, vols. 1 and 2.
“As a diarist myself I read Gail Godwin's diary with complicity, pleasure, suspense, annoyance, competitiveness, astonishment and, yes, a touch of jealousy. She holds her own gorgeously. It’s writing about writing, from the inside out: what it means–and takes–to be a writer.”
“[Godwin shows] the ways in which a writer’s imagination began to shape the material of her life into what later became notable stories and novels; it’s remarkable, in fact, that someone who at twenty-four could write with such wit, perception and rueful self-knowledge would have to wait another half-dozen years before receiving any recognition for her gifts. In one despairing moment, Godwin writes, ‘This journal has no earthly use or interest to anyone but Number One.’ Profoundly untrue.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Apart from Bellow, I can think of only four American novelists–Michael Chabon, Gail Godwin, Craig Nova, and Anne Tyler–whose work could be submitted to an international competition with any confidence.”
–Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
“Gail Godwin is one of the best writers we have today.”
–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“She is America’s best living novelist.”
–San Jose Mercury News
“One of the most intelligent and appealing of contemporary fiction writers.”