John McNally | Duke's Drive-In | Literary Events | Chicago Reader

John McNally Free Recommended

When: Sat., Oct. 16, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 2010

Burbank native McNally signs his latest books, the story collection Ghosts of Chicago and The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice From an Unrepentant Novelist. John McNally will be the first to tell you John McNally's not a big name in the literary world. So why should anybody take his advice on how to become a professional writer? Because, big name or not, he makes a living at it. McNally has published three novels and two short story collections, edited several anthologies, and placed pieces in numerous periodicals. He's also taught writing for many years--currently as an associate professor at Wake Forest University--and even worked as an author media escort. But his success came by way of a lot of hard work and perseverance and plenty of failure, as he dutifully notes in The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice From an Unrepentant Novelist (University of Iowa Press). The book isn't about how to write: it's school-of-hard-knocks advice on what to do once you've determined to be a writer, with tips (and red flags) on going to school, getting published, getting publicized, and finding employment. It ain't all pretty, and that's one of McNally's main points. "Writing is a job," he admonishes. "And you have to treat it as one." But the book isn't meant to scare off would-be Rushdies and Oateses, either--there are enough amusing personal anecdotes here to make the effort seem worthwhile.(McNally is a native southwest-sider, and Duke's shows up in his charming 2004 novel, The Book of Ralph.) --Jerome Ludwig

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