A new collection of critical and personal essays on writing, obsession, and inspiration from National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates. "Why do we write?" With this question, Joyce Carol Oates begins an imaginative exploration of the writing life, and all its attendant anxieties, joys, and futilities, in this collection of seminal essays and criticism. Leading her quest is a desire to understand the source of the writer's inspiration--do subjects haunt those that might bring them back to life until the writer submits? Or does something "happen" to us, a sudden ignition of a burning flame? Can the appearance of a muse-like Other bring about a writer's best work? --Publisher's description. A collection of critical and personal essays on writing, obsession, and inspiration allows the author to play literary detective while dissecting the work of other authors and herself.