"My instructions to them were deliberately vague--they were to write about writing, any aspect or approach that caught their fancy. Leaving it open seemed to me to heighten the chances of getting the strongest and least predictable work. And so it was. They came at it from different angles, using different techniques, and each piece is unique. Perhaps the only common tacit assumption is that writing is difficult."-- From the Introduction by Frank Conroy Since its inception in 1936, the Iowa Writers' Workshop has been perched atop the creative writing landscape, producing some of the greatest writers of the century. Though no one claims that writing can be taught--the Workshop itself professes no method--there is no disputing the success of the program and its celebrated attendees. Of the 20 Pulitzers awarded for fiction and poetry in the '90s, nine have gone to University of Iowa graduates.For The Eleventh Draft, present-day director Frank Conroy invited 23 former professors and students of the Iowa Writers' Workshop to pen essays on their craft. As he hints in his Introduction, he was looking for an eclecticism, and The Eleventh Draft is nothing if not diverse. Some pieces are deeply personal; others might have been scripted for the first day of class. They are sometimes prescriptive, often contradictory, but always eloquent and provocative. The Eleventh Draftis an invaluable resource for aspiring and established writers, for lovers of literature, and for anyone intrigued by the writing process or the Workshop itself. If you have doubts, open this anthology and, as Conroy advises, "Listen up."
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August 1999 : USA Hardback