At the beginning of a new writing project-whether it's the first
page of a new novel or a less ambitious project, writers often
experience exhilaration, fear, or dread. For Kristjana Gunnars, the
call of a new project is "like someone you don't know knocking on
your door-you either choose to let the person in or not. It's both
exciting and dangerous to start a new manuscript." This book is an
engagement with that "stranger" called writing.
Creative or imaginative writing is a complex process that
involves more than intellect alone. Writers make use of everything:
their sensibilities, history, culture, knowledge, experience,
education, and even their biology. These essays seek out, and
gather into a discussion, what writers have said about their own
experiences in writing. Although the writers are from around the
world and of very different backgrounds, the commonality of their
remarks brings home the realization that writers everywhere are
grappling with similar problems-with the seemingly simple problems
of when, where, why, and what to write, but also larger questions
such as the relationship between writer and society, or issues of
privacy, appropriation, or homelessness. While none of these
questions can be definitively answered, they can be fruitfully
Originating as questions posed in creative-writing seminars,
these essays have grown into companion texts for both writers and
readers who want to participate in a conversation about what
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