The Portrait of a Writer by Cristian Mihai

The Portrait of a Writer by Cristian MihaiCristian Mihai believes that writing about writing should not set out a series of steps to write the perfect novel; instead it should describe the writer’s experience of writing, describing with honesty what worked and what did not.

This collection of essays collects 18 posts from Mihai’s blog (cristianmihai.net) on both the mechanical and spiritual qualities of writing. Many of his insights are given as stories from Mihai’s eight years of writing. Covering such topics as writing for the reader or yourself, whether writers are actually different from normal people, and finding your own art, this collection contains something for writers and non-writers alike.

Mihai’s writing style is very accessible and does not suffer from the didactic or dry tone that some non-fiction works display. Even if you do not agree with all of his insights, and he is clear (happy even) that you might not, the prose demonstrates that his approach has worked for him.

Each of the essays is short; the longest is only a few pages long and several are less than half a page. Although this brevity could be mistaken for shallowness, closer inspection reveals that they have been pared down through careful editing.

The obvious issue with collection is that all the essays are available on his blog for free so this collection provides no new material; in fact it contains less as the images from the blog posts are omitted. I was therefore prepared for it to be more of an entry point for those who did not follow his blog than a continuing resource. However – although it is not necessarily the exact subset of posts I might have chosen – it contains several essays that I have already reread and will probably read again, so I will definitely be returning to it.

I fully recommend reading Mihai’s essays. I received a free copy of this collection but have already returned to it enough to have made it worth buying for me. The point at which the effort of returning to each post on the blog outweighs the cost will differ for each person.

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