Is This Handbook for You?
If you are confident, joyful and productive in your writing life, if you understand your place in the world of writing, if you are happy and carefree when you think of what you have written and what you still want to write, this handbook is not for you.
If you have struggled with insecurity, existential angst, being stuck and feeling unworthy; if you have wrestled with writing that is too crazy, too boring, too shameful, unorganized, or just plain sucks, read on.
This handbook is for writers who are afraid to begin and writers who have begun but are afraid to continue.
This handbook is for anyone haunted by writing, writers who long to write but fear it, writers who are afraid to call themselves writers.
This handbook is the culmination of recurring themes and threads that have arisen in my writing classes again and again and the process by which my students and I have begun to recover from our crippling, debilitating and false beliefs.
This handbook is a guide to rehabilitation for wounded writers.
What Readers and Writers are Saying about
The Halfway House for Writers:
Twenty pages into your book and it feels like I’ve finally found my bible. It has literally never occurred to me that anyone else felt this way. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
—Susan Howson, RVA News
I fell in love with The Halfway House for Writers on page one. "Nothing has been wasted: none of your writing and none of your time," Valley Haggard writes. "Even lost years and lost manuscripts were necessary to bring you where you are now."
Reading this was a revelation. I wanted to run find Valley and take both her hands and ask her, "Is this true? Is it all OK?" Instead I kept reading and found that yes, it is true, and that I am not the only one who feels "the embarrassment at your own desire, the burning lifelong longing to do this one thing that is forever at the edge of your fingertips, on the tip of your tongue, just a breath out of reach, scared off by the fierceness of your wanting."
The Halfway House for Writers is an absolutely necessary handbook for anyone who has ever felt that burning longing to write and all the tangled emotions that come with it: doubt, anxiety, fear, self-flagellation. With courage and grace, Valley shares her own struggles so that others will know they're not alone. I read the entire book with a smile on my face — a smile that sneaked onto my face and stayed there, a smile that wanted to say, "Oh, darling, I know. I know. Me too. Thank you."
But you will find more than affirmation in this book. You will also find an irresistible invitation to write: to write for 10 minutes at a time, to write without excuses or apologies. Valley offers prompts, gentle guidance and practical advice on how to approach this tricky process of extracting splinters and turning them into stories. If you write, or want to write, or even wish you could write, read this book. It's for you.
—Melissa Scott Sinclair, freelance and fiction writer
The Halfway House for Writers is a gem of a book. Filled with revealing personal anecdotes and honest advice it’s a combination memoir/self-help book disguised as a handbook for aspiring writers. Valley claims if you’re "confident, joyful, and productive in your writing life," this book is not for you. But as far as I can tell, people that are 100% confident about their creative output are a myth. And the advice she gives applies not only to writers, but really anyone who is struggling to give birth something creative. So I’d revise her recommendation to, "this book is for you" and then ask, why aren’t you reading it already?
—Noah Scalin, author of "Skull-A-Day" and "Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get (and Keep) Your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work & in Your Studio "
The Halfway House for Writers is the finest tiny guide to writing of its kind. It won't help you kill things with a bow or understand how to pilot a Boeing 747 (just in case you're wondering what to do when the stewardess announces that your pilot has relapsed) but it may inspire you to quit drinking, shaving, breathing, and ogling current crushes on Facebook until you finish your next book. With advice that's both sobering and promiscuous it's destined to become a cult classic. Haggard's sage advice is guaranteed to make the most commitment-phobic writers out there take out their notebooks, get down on one knee and put a ring on it. Valley Haggard has officially earned her coveted spot between Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg at the literary round table. Write more, write better go half way and then go all the way.
— Slash Coleman, award winning author of "The Bohemian Love Diaries"
I love that you mention my idols—Lamott, Goldberg, Cameron—because I've written shitty first drafts and done writing-practice and even completed the whole 12-week "Artist's Way" and all of that was great. But your take is fresh—a new shot of inspiration for a new decade. Your book should be a stocking-stuffer for writers. A balm for writing groups. Really.
—A.B. Westrick, author of “Brotherhood”
Valley Haggard’s The Halfway House for Writers is the book all writers want. It’s both coach and inspiration, practical prompts and words of encouragement. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a beginner, published or wanting to jumpstart your writing, this is a book you’ll want by your side. A combination of personal stories and advice, The Halfway House for Writers is a book to keep close, right there on your writing desk or by your bed, wherever you are apt to grab it and get writing. And you will. Valley’s words are exactly what we all need from time to time, to help sustain a writing practice or to fire up a fresh start. Every writer should have this in his or her collection.
—Patty Smith, author of The Year of Needy Girls (forthcoming, Kaylie Jones Books/Akashic Books), teacher of fiction and nonfiction at The Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology
Though I'm not a New York Times book critic, I have read a shit-ton of books about writing. This is my favorite. There is so much of you, so much honesty and vulnerability.
Privacy has always been important to me. I grew up in a family that had no boundaries. There wasn't one thing in my life that wasn't privy to feedback and criticism. This is why, for the most part, I stopped writing. I felt like my interior life was the only thing I had outright, and I resented (hell, still do) giving it away to people. For me, hiding out, silencing myself, is the only thing that has allowed me to survive. So why give that up?
Well, your book. That's why. I read your book with the eyes of someone who is very much afraid of telling her story. Who's been beaten down through eight years of writer's workshops, and 37 years of well-mannered WASP reserve. Two years ago, in the darkest months of my depression, I stopped speaking entirely. I didn't even know how to verbalize my desire for a sandwich. Sometimes just saying my own name aloud felt like TMI.
As a person who is clawing her way back into life, this book is a how-to manual. Not just for writing, but for living. You've helped so many people in ways that you might not even be aware of. There are a lot of us out there. You are doing healing work here, as cheesy as that sounds. You got my heart beating again. Thank you.
—Sara Lovelace, yoga teacher and writing student