Ah, the writer's life ... fans swarming, brilliant phrases spilling from your mouth, tasty treats awaiting in the mini-bar (not to mention...

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Ah, the writer’s life … fans swarming, brilliant phrases spilling from your mouth, tasty treats awaiting in the mini-bar (not to mention all those cute little bottles).

Don’t believe a word of it.

In “Mortification: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame” (Perennial, $12.95), editor Robin Robertson coaxes 70 authors into revealing the ugly secrets behind so-called writerly glory. Margaret Atwood shares tips on television appearances (“Never follow the Colostomy Association”). Carl Hiaasen advises paying attention to omens (“Any book event that begins with a near-death experience should be abandoned at once”). Poet Matthew Sweeney weighs the lisp-inducing hazards of reading highly sibilant verse just after you’ve been to the dentist to have a crown put in.

Other contributors include William Boyd, Margaret Drabble, Patrick McCabe, Rick Moody and a rather sly Julie Myerson on how to handle meeting critics who have trashed your books.

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But the final word on writerly mortification should go to James Lasdun, who takes the opportunity to redefine the word itself: “Mortification: the default mode of anyone involved in writing or other forms of self- exhibition, deliberate or accidental.”

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic