cover image The Making of a Writer: Volume 2: Journals, 1963–1969

The Making of a Writer: Volume 2: Journals, 1963–1969

Gail Godwin, Random, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6433-5

Doubt, despair, self-scrutiny, determination, and eventual gratification interplay in the second volume of acclaimed novelist Godwin's (Evensong) journals. Beginning in London, where Godwin had fled after a divorce and professional disappointment, the entries chart the gradual evolution of the themes and prose style in her fiction. Later, she achieves insight: "I know that this religious, mystical, spiritual thing is part of my ‘calling,' " she exults. In the interim, Godwin confesses her loneliness and fears about whether her work will ever be published. She tries out plots and different approaches. She reads widely; she has affairs with a dizzying parade of men; and after breaking an engagement, she impulsively marries a British psychoanalyst obsessed with Scientology. Fleeing marriage once more, she teaches at the University of Iowa and studies under Robert Coover. Success comes in 1969, when she is 32, with The Perfectionists accepted for publication and several stories appearing in literary magazines. In addition to offering valuable glimpses of a writer pursuing her craft, Godwin's journals are candid reflections of her emotional swings (she worries about "my perversity in human relationships") and the tumultuous romantic liaisons that reflect her search for a lifetime partner. (Jan.)