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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-01-23
- Reviewer: Staff
Advice books for writers are a dime a dozen but Moore (Crafting the Personal Essay) provides a fresh approach with this melding of Buddhist teachings and sage career and life lessons for those who devote their lives to the written word. Built upon the concept of mindfulness—the total concentration and openness to what’s in front of you—Moore divides the book into four sections (just as there are four noble truths in Buddhism). “The Writer’s Mind” focuses on the nature of creativity; “The Writer’s Desk” on how mindfulness is at work during the act of putting words on paper; “The Writer’s Vision” on nurturing good writing habits; and “The Writer’s Life,” or what it means to be a writer out in the world. Structured as a series of quotes—primarily from artists and from Buddhist monks—followed by Moore’s reflections, each short passage is illuminating on its own and as part of a larger whole. Some quotes will be familiar to seasoned wordsmiths, such as Rainer Maria Rilke’s invocation that writers must write or else they will die, but it’s lesser known nuggets of wisdom, coupled with Moore’s never patronizing advice that ring true. From Faulkner’s “kill your darlings” (cutting words is a necessary evil) to Pema Chödrön’s observation that clinging too hard to something “makes you unavailable to hear anything new,” this is a compact book of practical and philosophical truths for both novice and veteran writers. (May)