True, time is the villain and we are trapped in him. True, love is sometimes not returned. True, friends are sometimes false. But to be aware of this--all of it--and still want to go on living, that is the triumph. It is the reward.
As a young woman and aspiring author, Gail Godwin kept a detailed journal of her hopes and dreams, her love affairs, daily struggles, and small triumphs as she yearned for the day when she would finally become a published writer. At the urging of her friend Joyce Carol Oates, Godwin has distilled these early journals into two parts: This second and final volume opens in London in 1963 and concludes with the triumphant sale of Godwins first novel in 1969.
Newly divorced and filled with literary ambition, Godwin arrives in London in 1962. At the start of this second volume, the call to write has become ingrained in the trajectory of her life. Though she is hobbled by a tedious but well-paying job with the U.S. Travel Service (I thought I should no more be doing this job than raising skunks), Godwins journals brim with the emotional complexity and intellectual curiosity that will soon distinguish her novels, and a sharp wit that belies her twenty-six years.
Through these pages, Godwins development as a writer takes center stage, bolstered by her keen observations of human relationships--especially those between men and women: I want to exploit, define, name, place this ever-shifting contest between men and women. Her own love affairs are varied, doomed, and fascinating: Theres a short-lived engagement to a rugby player, a dalliance with a policeman, a tortured marriage to a psychiatrist obsessed with Scientology. Men have let me down, she writes, and I construct my meaning in the emptiness theyve left behind.
Leaving London and all its passionate wonders and disappointments, Godwin arrives in Iowa City to study at the Iowa Writers Workshop. There, taught by Kurt Vonnegut and José Donoso, building friendships with Jane Barnes, John Casey, David Plimpton, and John Irving, Gail Godwin finally achieves her dream--and a published novelist is born. The Making of a Writer, Volume 2 is a remarkable window into the life of one of the most notable American writers of a generation, and an extraordinarily candid look at the very heart of a woman who has written herself to acclaim.
From the Hardcover edition.
Gail Godwin was twenty-four years old and working as a waitress in the North Carolina mountains 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. In the heady days of her literary apprenticeship, Godwin kept a daily chronicle of her dreams and desires, her travels, love affairs, struggles, and breakthroughs. Now, at the urging of her friend Joyce Carol Oates, Godwin has distilled these early journals, which run from 1961 to 1963, to their brilliant and charming essence.
The Making of a Writer opens during the feverish period following the breakup of Godwin's first marriage and her stint as a reporter for The Miami Herald. Aware that she is entering one of the great turning points of her life as she prepares to move to Europe, Godwin writes of the "100 different hungers" that consume her on the eve of departure. A whirlwind trip to New York, the passengers and their stories on board the SS Oklahoma, the shock of her first encounters with Danish customs (and Danish men)-Godwin wonderfully conveys the excitement of a writer embracing a welter of new experience.
After a long, dark Scandinavian winter and a gloriously romantic interlude in the Canary Islands, Godwin moves to London and embarks on the passionate engagements that will inspire some of her finest stories. She records 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. She shares her passion for Henry James, Marcel Proust, Lawrence Durrell, Thomas Wolfe-and her terror of facing twenty-six with nothing to show but a rejected novel and a stack of debts. "I do not feel like a failure," Godwin insists as she sits down yet again to the empty page. "I will keep writing, harder than ever." Like Virginia Woolf's A Writer's Diary, Gail Godwin's journals brim with the urgency and wit of a brilliant literary mind meeting the world head on. An inspired and inspiring volume, The Making of a Writer opens a shining window into the life and craft of a great writer just coming into her own.
From the Hardcover edition.