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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A writing life is a creative life, 27 Dec 2011
Joy Manne (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
"A writer writes." "A writing life is a creative life." (Susan Tiberghien)
One Year to a Writing Life opens the door to the treasure chest of a writing life whether you are a beginning writer, or an experienced writer in search of inspiration. I am a glutton for books about writing. This is among the five best I've ever read. It's one of the rare ones I use. I do the exercises to widen my skills, and when I need structure and inspiration. I come back to the exercises when I am stuck.
One Year to a Writing Life has many excellences.
It leads us gently and firmly by the hand down a wide and well-lit corridor of options, each of which is clearly explained through tips and experienced through structured exercises. I had thought of myself as an accomplished personal development writer and an aspiring children's writer before I read this book. Now I have a menu of options I'd never imagined: journal writing; personal essays; opinion and travel essays; short stories, the short short; folk and fairy tales; poetic prose and the prose poem.
The lessons have a logical and harmonious structure. They start with the promise of what we will learn. The topic is then explained and illustrated with one or more examples by outstanding writers. Their texts are then analysed for us to show us what they achieved. No groping in the dark. No guessing what the writer achieved. We are taught with friendliness and joyful, non-pedantic clarity. We are given timed exercises. The contract with the reader is honoured in every chapter.
And this is the most amazing excellence. Most writing books are about how their author writes. Susan Tiberghien includes some of her own writing - how else can the reader trust her? But One Year to a Writing Life is an invitation into the company of writers. Its generous recognition of excellence in other writers puts us among that illustrious group. We participate in a society of authors and feel their presences as we read. They talk to us, teach us and encourage us and we know where to find them again. Every lesson has a bibliography (pp 229-238) and there's a bibliography of Authors, a list of credits and an Index.
A good writer finds the treasure deep within, births it and places it in the light: illuminates it in such a way that brings insight, inspiration and information to readers. We are taught how to use our dreams and imagination as resources. Our corridor leads us into the magic rooms where the alchemy of writing is practised. Without access to these rooms, writing is only words.
The language of One Year to a Writing Life is exemplary in its simplicity and straightforwardness. The book communicates friendliness, good sense and encouragement. It inspires me to writing again and again. Thank you, Susan Tiberghien for this excellent book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent advice for writers all over the world, 5 Mar 2012
This book contains twelve fundamental lessons to writing, from journal writing to short stories, to poetry, memoir and more. The beauty of the layout of the book is that you can dip into any of these lessons at any time. If, one day your inspiration leans towards writing a travel essay, you can simply turn to lesson three - "Opinion and Travel Essays". Here you discover the three elements of a travel essay, followed by tips and hints from other writers. Advice included in this lesson comes from editors of travel magazines such as "Condé Nast Traveler" and "National Geographic Traveler", to examples of good travel writing from "The Times" newspaper and other publications. These are followed by tips and writing exercises to help you hone your craft. Each lesson is carefully laid out and easy to follow.

The checklist for rewriting in the "revising" section in lesson eleven near the end of the book is invaluable and is the most well thumbed and used part in my copy of the book, a book I keep permanently on my desk.

Susan Tiberghien founded the Geneva Writers' Group in 1993 in Switzerland and has been giving writing workshops to writers of all nationalities since then. These workshops have been highly appreciated by those who have have attended them and many writers have gone on to achieve success with their work due to Susan's wisdom and teachings. Swiss Watching: Inside Europe's Landlocked Island (Financial Times book of the year 2010), Moonlight in Odessaby Janet Skeslien-Charles and Pettina Gappah's "Elegy for Easterly"An Elegy for Easterly (winner of Guardian First Book Award), are just a few of these successes, there are many more.

For those not lucky enough to be able to attend her workshops, this book provides the next best thing to being there. Whether you live in Newcastle in the UK, or Neuchatel in Switzerland, the advice and the twelve lessons in "One Year to a Writing Life" come from an inspiring teacher and are valid for writers everywhere in the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Susan Tiberghien's excellent writing primer, 13 Feb 2012
This book is beautifully pitched to give confidence and understanding to writers who are still finding their feet, and it covers a very broad terrain very sensibly and sensitively. All the way through Susan Tiberghien never takes her eye off the goal of getting the aspiring writer simply to sit down and do the difficult thing - write - and that plain insistence is in itself very valuable. She produces so many (and various) examples that many different tastes and artistic leanings can be satisfied, and nothing germane is ever sacrificed. I consider this book, in its quiet and dedicated way, a model of what a clear-sighted, encouraging, helpful primer should be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Monthly odyssey, 26 Jan 2014
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I am one month in and enjoying it tremendously. Orderly, gentle exercises and a wise voice guiding you help to structure some powerful writing experiences. I raced through the first month in a couple of days but am pacing myself so that the book can last a year.
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