One of my commenters alerted me to a Bukowski poem which I had not read before. The poem was about writing poetry. Writers are often at their best when writing about writing, about the conflicts, the fears and the decidedly unglamorous hard work and lack of recognition. I’m reminded of some of my favorite novels about writing and the writing life.
For raw emotion, and for a treatment of the eternal struggles of writers (finances, relationships, qualms about selling out) you can’t beat George Gissing’s New Grub Street, first published in 1908. For the unvarnished, stark reality of the writing life, read Martin Eden, by Jack London. There has been speculation that the initials of the title character, M.E., meant “me,” referring to London himself. I loved Elise Blackwell’s 2007 undating of the Gissing book, simply called Grub. The Garden of Eden, by Ernest Hemingway conveys some idea of what it means to be a writer. The Bestseller, by the late Olivia Goldsmith, while more about publishing than about writing, is illuminating and fast-paced. Of course, there are many more.
These books already qualify as excellent novels, but the content about the writing life hits home, sometimes painfully, for those of us who have chosen to follow this path.