At a time when people must work harder than ever to stand out from the crowd, the word creativity can seem vague and overused. But what exactly is creativity? Adrian McKerracher travels from Vancouver to Havana to Buenos Aires, leading readers on a journey to discover poignant new insights into a life of letters. Through encounters with artists of all kinds, famous or obscure, McKerracher traces a socio-cultural history of the meaning of writing, each vignette a meditation on the way that metaphor limits and liberates understanding: creativity is a process, a possession, a relation, an algorithm, a game, and more. But What It Means to Write is far more than an archive of the figurative. Along the way, a labyrinth of chance reunites McKerracher with old friends, threatens him with violence, and invites him to remain forever in a place both real and imagined. His journey from cafés to libraries to late-night living rooms embodies the structure of a bold new methodology for interpreting creativity, demonstrating the tools for working productively with ambiguity and rebuilding meaning, one metaphor at a time. Told in character-driven narrative pulses that reflect on the nature of belonging, understanding, and loving, What It Means to Write is a celebration of the possibilities of both language and silence.
Adrian McKerracher is an independent scholar, writer, and illustrator. He lives in Toronto.
"McKerracher is both passionate and charmingly self-effacing as he describes his quest to glean the metaphors that inspire other writers' work. In describing his journey in What It Means to Write, [he] displays a voice that is both accomplished and deeply human, vulnerable, and yearning for connection and understanding." Quill & Quire
"Using the writings of Benjamin, Lispector, and Bolaño as inspiration, the author makes his way through a number of interviews with an articulate group of Argentine writers, most whom will be unknown to North American readers. The resulting volume intersperses a sequence of orderly fragments that survey theories of creativity alongside forays with new friends and interviews with the authors. McKerracher devised a methodology and structure all his own for this unusual work of creative nonfiction. It makes delightful and stylish reading, as much for its illuminations as for its construction." Choice
"A genuine pleasure to read, What It Means to Write exquisitely employs memoir and nonfiction to ruminate upon the connections between creativity and metaphor. Others have attempted such an intertextual weaving of writing, fieldwork, and narrative, but rarely is it done so well." Cynthia Chambers, University of Lethbridge